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.

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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:

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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:

Read more of this story »

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.

Read more of this story »

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.

Read more of this story »

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 »

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Growth industry

Planting millions of trees to absorb CO2 in Africa

Freeway Air Pollution Is So Much Worse Than You Thought

A couple of new findings tell an unsettling story about the health effects of living near freeways–and that “near” is a lot farther away than you might think. Finding #1: Pregnant women living near highways or busy roads are more than twice as likely give birth “very preterm” at 30 or …

Chinese airline wants spare ‘barstool-style’ seating to carry 40% more passengers

from DVICE by Kevin Hall
Chinese airline wants spare 'barstool-style' seating to carry 40% more passengersChina’s Spring Airlines is in a bit of a pickle. The air carrier has enjoyed a steady increase in passengers since its start in ’05 thanks to low fares (which means next to no complimentary in-flight amenities), and now its fleet of 13 planes can’t handle all the prospective customers. The airline already has 14 new jets on the way, but that’s not enough, officials say.

The solution? Make passengers stand! Well, not completely, but close enough. “It’s just like bar stools. The safety belt is the most important thing. It will still be fastened around the waist,” Spring Airlines’ Zhang Wuan told China’s CCTV. The new arrangement, according to Spring Airlines, would allow 40% more passengers on every flight and help reduce the carrier’s cost by up to 20%, which would in turn lower fares.

Spring Airlines president Wang Zhenghua may even want to take the idea further, after talking with China’s vice premier, Zhang Dejiang. “He suggested that, for a lower price, passengers should be able to get on a plane like catching a bus, with no seat, no luggage consignment, no food, no water, but very convenient,” Mr. Zhenghua said.

That kind of reasoning is entirely opposite to most airlines, which seek to recoup losses through luxury servicesand optimized routes while still providing comfort. Still, it’s just a proposal for the time being. Spring Airlines wants to submit its plan by the end of the year.

Via Sky News

we are not from kalamazoo: children’s hospital africa


design for the children – hospital africa by we are not from kalamazoo
image courtesy we are not from kalamazoo

here is we are not from kalamazoo‘s proposal for the design for the children
competition in east africa.

the hospital has been defined in zones; a children and family quarter, a surgery wing,
and an exam and education quarter. the strips of program are then tied together around
courtyards, which are the social knots of the project. the series of courtyard gardens,
each with individual characters, are connected by covered walkways and relate to
the program of the surrounding rooms.

in the first phase there are three courtyards defined by the central ‘serviced’ spine, two
branches of rooms and the rectangular perimeter wall.


design for the children – hospital
image courtesy we are not from kalamazoo

the materials of the project are the most commonly used around east africa ; pallet
of sun dried earth bricks, corrugated steel mono pitch roofs and wooden frame windows
have been selected due to easy construction using local knowledge, low cost
and easy availability, easy maintenance, and environmental suitability.

the services (water and electricity) are located in a central spine upon which serviced
rooms are placed, hence limiting the need for excess plumbing and wiring, and connecting
them directly under the source of supply of water and electricity, the v shaped-roof.


design for the children – hospital courtyard with raintanks
image courtesy we are not from kalamazoo

rain water is collected by means of two mono-pitch roofs forming a ‘v’ shaped valley
which channels rain water into water-butts that can supply water during the dry seasons.

photo voltaic cells are located on the roofs and supply power through a power hub
and the central spine of the building to the rooms that need it.

natural ventilation is achieved in three ways. first by offsetting the roofs from the top
of the walls, hence allowing a free circulation of air throughout the building.
second, by using narrow plan depths of 3.5 meters, ensuring efficient cross ventilation.


design for the children – hospital
image courtesy we are not from kalamazoo

solar shading for the rooms is provided by the courtyard typology, overhanging
eaves and narrow windows. in the family courtyard, the trees also offer a wide natural
solar shading

thermal lag, which keeps interiors cool in the sun and warmer at night, is ensured
by the high thermal mass of the brick.

sheltered spaces for the rainy season are created along the courtyards, under the generous
overhanging eaves.


design for the children – hospital
image courtesy we are not from kalamazoo


design for the children – hospital courtyard
image courtesy we are not from kalamazoo


design for the children education room
image courtesy we are not from kalamazoo

Rethinking Food Production for a World of Eight Billion

from Green Options by Earth Policy Institute

old farmer in lingbao chinaby Lester R. Brown

In April 2005, the World Food Programme and the Chinese government jointly announced that food aid shipments to China would stop at the end of the year. For a country where a generation ago hundreds of millions of people were chronically hungry, this was a landmark achievement. Not only has China ended its dependence on food aid, but almost overnight it has become the world’s third largest food aid donor.

As noted in Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, the key to China’s success was the economic reforms in 1978 that dismantled its system of agricultural collectives, known as production teams, and replaced them with family farms. In each village, the land was allocated among families, giving them long-term leases on their piece of land. The move harnessed the energy and ingenuity of China’s rural population, raising the grain harvest by half from 1977 to 1986. With its fast-expanding economy raising incomes, with population growth slowing, and with the grain harvest climbing, China eradicated most of its hunger in less than a decade—in fact, it eradicated more hunger in a shorter period of time than any country in history.

While hunger has been disappearing in China, it has been spreading throughout much of the developing world, notably sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Indian subcontinent. As a result, the number of people in developing countries who are hungry has increased from a recent historical low of 800 million in 1996 to over 1 billion today. Part of this recent rise can be attributed to higher food prices and the global economic crisis. In the absence of strong leadership, the number of hungry people in the world will rise even further, with children suffering the most.

Read more of this story »

Americans Waste 500,000 Years In Traffic Jams (But That’s Good News!)

There’s more good news on the roads front, as congestion continues to decline–albeit slowly–in US cities. A new report from the Texas Transportation Institute finds that in 2007 Americans wasted an average of 36.1 hours stuck in traffic, down from the 2005 peak of 37.4 hours. Collectively, the numbers are still …

Delhi’s Air Pollution Levels Rising Again

from Green Options by Dr Vandana Prakash

When I was looking at Delhi’s environment almost a decade back, Delhi was entering its bitter battle against being the ‘fourth most polluted city’ in the world. Much thought and action (or shall we say reaction) was devoted to the problem. Delhi was able to remedy both its ‘fourth most polluted’ status and its air quality with unprecedented ‘hyper-activity:’ remarkable for being so well concerted across the different levels and different arms of the government.

Delhi Smog

Picture: Delhi Smog in January 2009

As I revisited the problem more recently, I was both shocked and saddened to see a decline so visibly and so quickly. Examining Delhi’s data, in January this year, I found an increase in vehicular pollution. I was not expecting this to happen in face of the phenomenal and difficult measures that Delhi had undertaken: like relocation of industries out of residential areas (something that had come about as a result of the developmental dream for Delhi in the 1950s) and conversion of the entire fleet of Delhi Transportation Corporation (DTC) buses into Compressed Natural gas or CNG (resulting in the largest CNG-operated public transportation in the world).

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Mobile pollution sensors deployed

Cyclists, buses, cars and even pedestrians become mobile pollution detectors in a UK-based scientific project.

CEBRA: vaeksthuset botanical garden

the danish architecture firm CEBRA designed the vaeksthuset botanical garden for aarhus university.
the project was created for a building competition restoring existing buildings and designing a new one on
the campus. the greenhouse project will cover around 29,600 sq. ft. providing an expansive area of flora
and fauna at the university. inside the building will feature a series of round pods each inspired by natural
forms. the largest dome is the greenhouse covered in a pointed glass roof. next to this is an facilities
complex with some office space, cafes and more greenery. the third space is an uncovered outdoor garden
partly shaded by a long glass corridor connected to the facility greenhouse.

http://www.cebra.info

Nearly-completed Shanghai high-rise falls over

Nearly-completed Shanghai high-rise falls over June 28, Shanghai

A nearly-completed 13-storey Shanghai apartment building toppled over, killing a worker and raising concerns in China’s largest city over construction standards.  Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng ordered a full investigation into the cause of the incident, which occurred in the southwestern part of the city.  A 28-year-old migrant worker, surnamed Xiao, who entered the building to collect his tools, was killed after trying to jump out of a window as the building fell…more

Could Chicken Feathers Be The Salvation Of Hydrogen?

from Green Options by Christopher DeMorro

Unless you are a vegetarian, you probably agree that chicken is delicious. But could this fowl have a future in automobiles? According to a presentation made at the 13th Annual Green Chemical and Engineering Conference this weekend…maybe. It seems that carbonized chicken feathers can hold hydrogen quite well; better than carbon nanotubes or metal hydrides currently being tested as hydrogen carriers. Could this solve the infrastructure problems currently holding hydrogen technology back?

Read more of this story »

On Newly Car-Free Broadway, Vendors Disappointed By Slow Sales

We love the idea of turning Broadway into a pedestrian mall–it’s a win for New York City and there’s plenty of evidence that increasing foot traffic on a street generally translates into higher sales for local merchants. But when we checked in with about 20 business owners and street vendors …

arons en gelauff architecten: annie MG schmidt house


one of the silo’s rooftops will house an open playground
image courtesy of arons en gelauff architecten

annie MG schmidt house designed by arons en gelauff architecten, is the winner of the
adaptive reuse design competition for two former sewage treatment silos in amsterdam’s
zeeburg district. the design which is named after holland’s most famous author of children’s books,
annie MG schmidt (1911-1995), is a multi-functional cultural center that will house a range of
facilities including a media centre, movie theatre, tower room and shops. this project gives new life
to the silos, transforming them into places of activity and leisure. one of the silo’s rooftops
will house an open playground, with restaurant praq op ‘t daq built on the other.

the overall plan is a collaboration between AM and de alliantie develpment companies,
annie MG schmidt huis foundation, restaurant praq, arons en gelauff architecten,
landscape architect rob aben and janneke hooymans.

the project is set to be completed in 2012.

These Are the Winners of the Seastead Design Contest

from Bustler.net News by Vanilla Hustler

The Seasteading Institute has crowned the winners in its first Seasteading Architectural Design Contest. The Contest, which ran from February 1st to May 1st, invited participants to design the floating city of their dreams. The winning design was awarded a $1000 grand prize, and there were four additional $250 prizes for specific categories.

Seasteads are permanent, stationary structures specifically designed for long-term ocean living. Entrants into the contest were provided with a 3-D model of TSI’s patent-pending base platform, on which they built creative architectural designs for a new society of ocean pioneers. The specifics of the design, aesthetics, and intended use were entirely up to each designer.

Entrants ranged from amateur 3D designers to professional architects and architecture students. 41 qualified designs were entered, including sports arenas, medical facilities, universities, hotels, and residences. The designs were judged by a panel of TSI staff, volunteers and board members.

The Winning Designs:

$1,000 Grand Prize: The Swimming City by András Gyõrfi (Runner Up: Seagull Hotel by Matias Perez)

image

Click above image to enlarge
Grand Prize: The Swimming City by András Gyõrfi

Official: Toyota Prius is Now the Biggest Selling Car in Japan

from Green Options by Andrew Williams

The latest Japanese car sales figures reveal that the Toyota Prius hybrid has now become the top selling vehicle in Japan.

According to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, in June the company sold 22,292 units of its flagship hybrid vehicle, a sharp rise of almost 400% over the same month last year (when 6,231 cars were shifted) and more than twice as much as the 10,915 sold in May.

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Seven designs that were never built

Seven designs that were never built June 30

Before arriving in Dubai, most people do a cursory Google Image search to get a sense of what the city will look like. More often than not, they mostly see artist’s renderings of buildings that may never get as far as breaking ground; a visual feast of some of the craziest, most ambitious ideas for buildings in the world. The question is: will this tradition continue, even at a slower pace, or have the region’s property developers developed a permanent taste for economic feasibility?…more

Excessive withdrawal of renewable water resources

from Random graphic of the day: UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library by UNEP/GRID-Arendal <mapmaster@grida.no>
Excessive withdrawal of renewable water resourcesThe countries known to be experiencing stress or scarcity of water per capita are roughly those which are excessively using their renewable water resources (North Africa, Middle-East and central Asia including Afghanistan and Pakistan). Excessive use is also of concern in some of the northern European countries such as Germany, Denmark or Poland. More so, as a consequence of damming, the Tigris and Euphrates in the eastern mountains of Turkey are now considered as major hotspots where violence could easily erupt if a clear mechanism for resolving conflict is not put in place. Turkey holds the dominant position since both the Tigris and Euphrates rise in its eastern mountains. Both rivers then flow through Syria and Iraq before draining into the Persian Gulf. Syria and Iraq are thus dependent on Turkish cooperation for the amount of water they receive. Turkey is carrying out a US$32 billion water development scheme called the Grand Anatolia Project (GAP), which involves construction of several dams in its underdeveloped south-east, for irrigation and to generate hydro electric power (HEP). This will definitely have a negative impact on the downstream riparian states of Syria and Iraq; however it also presents an opportunity for collaboration on water-use. Tensions tend to escalate and erupt whenever Turkey undertakes damming of the rivers. This has made Syria and Iraq continue to lobby the Arab League states to unite against Turkey on the GAP issue. In retaliation, both states have also supported the minority Kurdish Workers Party in its struggle against the Turkish government, prompting Turkey to threaten to cut off the flow of water to Syria and Iraq on more than one occasion.

Americans Save One Quarter Billion Dollars with Energy Efficient Homes

from Green Options by Ruedigar Matthes

One quarter billion dollars is a lot. An awful lot. Most people will never even come near that amount of money, but that’s what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Americans saved this past year by switching over to energy efficient homes.

In the EPA’s announcement on July 3, it was reported that 17 percent of all single family homes built across the nation in the year 2008 received the EPA’s Energy Star approval rating, which means that a homes are at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30 percent more efficient than standard homes. The percentage of Energy Star homes was up from 12 percent in 2007.

The increase in Energy Star rated homes shows that home builders and home buyers are investing in homes that save money and the environment. “Every year more Americans decide to cut their energy bills and help keep the air clean in their communities by buying a new home that has earned EPA’s Energy Star,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

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Saying It With Solar: eSolar’s Independence Day Display

from Green Options by Jennifer Kho

Solar is already a source of power. Now some hope solar projects’ striking appearance can also make them a powerful marketing tool.

For the Fourth of July, concentrating solar-thermal startup eSolar programmed a quarter square mile of mirrors in Lancaster, Calif., to form the American flag and the Statue of Liberty.

The point? To celebrate Independence Day, and to help lobby for the American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill, which would enact a carbon cap-and-trade program and other emission-reduction measures if approved and signed into law. The House of Representatives passed the controversial bill last month, and the Senate is now considering it.

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Climate Change Shrinks Sheep 5% in 25 Years

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer


Wild sheep on the island of Hirta off the shore of Scotland are smaller than 25 years ago, and scientists have found climate change to be the cause.

On average these wild sheep are weighing in at 5 percent smaller than 25 years ago, an indication that climate change can have a rapid effect on natural populations and a sign of possible more widespread changes in future, researchers said on Thursday.

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SPF architects: aria di zhuhai, china


the zhuhai opera house by SPF architects
image courtesy SPF architects

the zhuhai opera house by SPF architects is located in the city of zhuhai in guangdong
province, china. the project design brief required the ability to seat 1500 people, provide
a large plaza gathering space, rehearsal hall, restaurants and other public amentities.

the primary element of the design, a critical geographic and cultural element of zhuhai city,
is a stone – specifically the ‘dieshi’ which means ‘stacking rock’. the concept develops
the opera house as 3 stacked dieshi: part of a master plan based on the principle of ‘balance’
from five element theory, a traditional chinese philosophy. a red, sandstone plaza invites cultural interaction, and a forest is planted behind the site – the embodiment of growth and sustainability.
the shape of the center stone comfortably houses the opera house auditorium, its curvature
lending perfectly to the intimacy of the space.

hong kong bamboo scaffolding

bamboo has long been used as an assembly material in china, particularly hong kong,
because of its versatility. one of the most interesting applications of the wood is its structural
function for scaffolding. extremely eco-friendly and cost-effective resource, it continues to be
used for this purpose because it is durable enough to support the weight of builders,
their equipment and materials, but is lightweight itself. unlike typical metal scaffolding,
bamboo can also be cut and tailor-made to suit any contour of construction – it can be configured
into a variety of shapes and follow irregular architectural features of a building,
and takes very little time to build-up. it is light and easily transportable to other sites
and no machinery is required to assemble the scaffold and put it in place.
when one job draws to a close, bamboo can easily be recycled and used for another project.

U.S. Military Targets Toxic Enemy #1: Hexavalent Chromium

from Green Options by Tina Casey

Department of Defense Phasing Out Hexavalent ChromiumIf hexavalent chromiumdoesn’t ring a bell, think chrome, the stuff that puts the shine on everything from bathroom faucets to motorcycles.  If that still doesn’t help, maybe Erin Brockovich does.  In the 1990’s, the former legal clerk fought to expose hexavalent chromium contamination in drinking water, in the small California town of Hinkley.  The result was a record-breaking settlement and a major motion picture.  Fast forward to April 2009, and the U.S. military is adding a new chapter to the Brockovich book.  The Department of Defense has issued a formal memo requiring an aggressive across-the-board reduction in the military’s use of hexavalent chromium, otherwise known as chromium 6.

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Genetically Engineered Viruses Remove Trace Metals

from Green Options by Amiel Blajchman

University of British Columbia Professor Scott Dunbar of the school’s Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering has pioneered a way to genetically engineer viruses to bind with minerals.

Along with colleagues, his team has developed a method to selectively “breed” a viral family to bind to specific minerals. In other words, they are developing viri that can find and bind to a chosen mineral in a sludge pile!

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Cities Worldwide Should Follow Los Angeles’ Example of ‘Coal-free Electricity’

from Green Options by Mridul Chadha

Los Angeles’ Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has announced that his city will not buy electricity produced in coal fired fired power plants from 2020 instead the city will switch to cleaner energy sources to fulfill its power demands.

California has no coal-fired power plants and Los Angeles will stop buying coal generated power that it buys from other states. The 40 percent power that comes from coal-fired power plants will be taken from power plants running on cleaner sources like natural gas, nuclear energy and hydro power. This is in addition to the city’s energy efficiency plans under which it seeks to reduce energy consumption by 1 percent every year for the next ten years.

Los Angeles has set a great example for the big cities which are busy economic centers with huge energy demands. Energy consumption in rapidly growing cities of the developing countries is growing at astronomical rates. Usually the simple solution is to produce more energy, set up coal-fired power plants since coal is easily available and cheap. However, long term solutions to this energy problem are often overlooked. Countries eying faster economic growth must explore such alternatives and work to develop them as they hold the key to the problem of not just energy consumption but rising carbon emissions and climate change as well.

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3LHD architects: miramare business center


miramare business center  rendering by freya

the miramare business center in zagreb, croatia is one of 3LHD architects latest projects. the studio won
first prize in the public competition to design the structure this past may.  the building site sits in between
zagreb’s classical center and a more modern area dominated by public and social buildings. their design
aims to unify these two side of the city with two interacting volumes. the first is a smaller tower with
5 floors and a taller one with 20 floors. in between the two buildings is a semi open atrium connecting the
interior with the public space. commercial facilities are placed in the main floor which serves as the main
access to the centre. the upper portions of the two towers are for businesses and the top floor has a
panoramic viewpoint. to distinguish the building the architects will clad the faced in glass modules which
are pulled in and out to create a rich texture.

http://3lhd.com

Corridors of Power

from BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh
After the National Security Agency “maxed out the capacity of the Baltimore area power grid,” according to an article in The Register – itself citing The Baltimore Sun – due to the near-endless electrical needs of its wire-tapping supercomputers, the NSA has begun planning the construction of a brand new, $2 billion data center in the deserts of Utah.

[Image: Photo by Thundered Cat].

Indoor plants lift office workrate – The Full Story

Indoor plants lift office workrate
The Full Story
Recognition of the role of indoor plants is growing, with the Green Building Council now awarding two points towards green star ratings for indoor plant 

and more »


Biofuels Perform Effectively As Jet Fuel

Le Bourget, France (SPX) Jun 29, 2009 – Boeing and a team from across the aviation industry have released high-level elements of a study that shows that sustainable biofuels analyzed in a series of pioneering test flights performed favorably in comparison to petroleum-based fuel.

The Thinnest Buildings In The World Come With Toilets To Match

We knew that Japan probably has the thinnest houses in the world. Of course, the toilets match. Just looking at the girl inside makes me anxious: (more…)

Virtually Waterless Laundry Washing Machine

from Green Options by Keith Rockmael

At one point, it seems as though virtually everyone has sat in front of washing machine and watched the soaked clothes tumble through the suds. That tradition may be a thing of the past if a new “virtually waterless” laundry machine finds its way to the mainstream.

Although only in prototype stage, this new machine may be able to save up to 90% of water compared to a conventional machine and will also cut carbon emissions. Created by Xeros, this machine replaces the old school idea of cleaning clothes. The technology goes with full on chemistry advances by replacing the majority of the water with reusable nylon polymer beads, the machine can clean clothes in less time than traditional machines, and we see these waterless wonders then you can thank Professor Stephen Burkinshaw, from the University of Leeds who made the discovery that certain types of polymer beads could be used for cleaning.

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Just read these interesting articles regarding embodied energy.

The upshot being that transporation of materials and people is still a much more pressing issue than the energy utilised to create the products in the first place.

I also note the comment at most places in the world timber can have a net negative greenhouse warming impact due to the carbon captured in the growth of the material. Yet for Dubai the associated emissions from transporting timber makes it much less appealing as a sustainable product.

Maybe we need to have supply chain magamenment that tags products with thier carbon emissions in transit.

http://www.constructionweekonline.com/article-4931-renewable_building_products/2/

http://daily.sightline.org/daily_score/archive/2009/04/14/does-city-living-trim-greenhouse-gas-emissions