Author Archives: Dawn Killough

New York City Team DURA Designs Stackable Post-Disaster Home for Solar Decathlon 2015

DURA House, designed and built by NYC College of Technology

One of the teams in this year’s Solar Decathlon, is from New York City’s College of Technology.  This team focused on the issue of providing disaster housing that can be easily transported and stacked, if needed, to provide a high density of housing in a small footprint. Team DURA (Diverse, Urban, Resilient, Adaptable) created a…

Coca Cola Saves Energy With Umisol Window Film

Umisol Infrared Blocking Filter was recently installed at the Coca-Cola headquarters in Brussels.  The project is expected to create a net profit of 14 €/m²/year. Energy efficiency is central to the European strategy with the 2020 – 2030 – 2050 EU Directives for smart and sustainable growth and the progression to a resource-efficient economy.  By 2050…

Rain Tunnel Technology Provides Drinking Water from Air

Rain tunnel technology provides drinking water from air

New technology from Bangalore promises clean drinking water by drawing moisture from the air.  Rain Tunnel Technology, invented by Dr Rajah Vijay Kumar, Chief Scientific Officer at the De Scalene Research Organization, will soon be available for both commercial and household use. Getting water from the atmosphere is not new. It has been around for more…

What Affects the R-Value of a Building?

Doors and windows effect R-value of a building

This is part two of our posts on R-value.  Read the first post to get a definition of R-value and find out what it means to you. Doors and Windows As much as we love, and need, doors and windows, they are not good for a building’s insulation value.  Doors open and close, allowing air…

What Is R-Value and What Does It Mean To You?

R-value of building insulation

What Is R-Value? Simply put, R-value is a measurement of how insulating a building material is, protecting one side from the heat or cold on the other side.  A higher R-value means that a material insulates better than one with a lower value. In order to get an idea of what these values are, here…

New Insulated Concrete Blocks Made From Recycled Styrofoam

BluBloc insulated concrete forms

A new company in Portland, Oregon is gearing up to manufacture large quantities of the latest product in the ICF (insulated concrete forms) world.  BluBloc offers a twist on standard ICF products – it uses recycled styrofoam instead of manufacturing new for use in the forms. BluBloc is 85% recycled polystyrene foam (styrofoam) and 15%…

Mushrooms Hold Key to Stormwater Treatment

Mycoremediation, the use of fungi to treat water and soil, could be the stormwater filter of the present and future.  A couple of projects in Portland, Oregon are putting the science to the test. According to Wikipedia, “one of the primary roles of fungi in the ecosystem is decomposition, which is performed by the mycelium….

SunBeamer Skylight System Provides Natural Light Indoors, Promotes Vitamin D Production

SunCentral has announced the release of a new skylight system that claims to promote vitamin D production by providing natural sunlight in interior spaces that would not normally see sunlight. “Our goal was to develop an indoor lighting system that provides much of the sun’s health benefits, including boosting the body’s ability to produce Vitamin…

Become a Scottish Lord or Lady for $50, and Help the Planet Too

Buy Scottish land and become a lord or lady

Ever dreamed of being a part of the landed gentry?  Here’s your chance.  For less that $50 you can purchase a small plot of land in Scotland, which entitles you to use the title of Laird (landowner), Lord, or Lady!  The good thing is, the land is preserved in its natural state and you can…

First US Power-to-Gas Plants Open in California and Colorado

The first power-to-gas plant in the US opened in California

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) is bringing science fiction to life, launching two demonstration projects to create and test a carbon-free, power-to-gas system for the first time ever in the U.S. The technology converts electricity into gaseous energy and could provide North America with a large-scale, cost-effective solution for storing excess energy produced from renewable…

Cellular Shades Offer Shade and Save Money, Too

Cellular shades

If you are looking to save money on your electric bill this year, cellular window shades can help insulate your home from high air conditioning and heating costs through all the seasons. Chris Lavertu, owner of San Diego Window Fashions states, “With cellular shades you will get a very attractive design that will look great…

Net Zero Case Study: Bullitt Center – Changing the Status Quo

Bullitt Center

The Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington, is one of the most self-sufficient buildings on the planet.  It is net zero energy and, after the water reuse system is approved by city authorities, net zero water.  Net zero means that the building uses the same amount as it creates or generates – it is self-sufficient.  In…

Green Alternatives to Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation can help save up to 50% in energy costs, protect a building from moisture intrusion, and provide sound insulation.  In addition, it provides two to three times more insulation that traditional fiberglass. However, according to Environmental Working Group, most common spray polyurethane foam insulation contains methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, or MDI, a synthetic chemical…

Eiffel Tower Goes Green

Eiffel Tower

An ambitious remodel project at the Eiffel Tower is making its operations greener.  The first floor of the landmark building was recently refurbished for a better visitor experience and to improve the environmental impact of the historic building. First floor glazing was changed to provide a 25% reduction in solar heat gain during the summer…

Flooring May Contain High Levels of Formaldehyde

Cali Bamboo Flooring

In a story that gained national attention last week, it was revealed that certain low-cost Chinese-made laminate flooring products sold by Lumber Liquidators contain a high volume of formaldehyde.  CBS’ 60 Minutes did an investigation and found that the product “may fail to meet health and safety standards, because it contains high levels of formaldehyde, a…

Net Zero Case Study: Bullitt Center — Water

Bullitt Center in Seattle

The Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington, is one of the most self-sufficient buildings on the planet. It is net zero energy and, after the water reuse system is approved by city authorities, net zero water. Net zero means that the building uses the same amount as it creates or generates – it is self-sufficient. In…

Eco Classroom Gets Drinking Water From Green Roof

Eco classroom at Benenden School

This 230 square foot eco classroom, built in the trees at the Benenden School in Kent, United Kingdom, is in demand from students and faculty alike because of its view and its interesting construction.  Built by treehouse builders Blue Forest, the classroom is completely self-sufficient, using solar power for electricity and water harvested from its…

Wind Tree Provides Silent Wind Power Beautifully

Wind Tree turbine

A new French start-up, NewWind, is making wind power beautiful!  Their new Wind Tree offers almost a hundred mini-windmills on an apparatus designed to look like a tree. Due to the light construction of the “leaves,” the Wind Tree generates power at wind speeds as low as 4.4 miles per hour!  This translates into sustained…