Bullitt Center, Seattle

Net Zero Case Study: Bullitt Center – Energy

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 a series of posts here on GBE, we will look at what makes this building tick.   Solar Power The Bullitt Center uses photovoltaic (PV)…

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Wind Tree turbine

Wind Tree Provides Silent Wind Power Beautifully

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 operation times (an average of 320 days a year) that are almost double those of standard windmills that need higher wind speeds in order to…

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Facebook game Power House saves energy

Facebook Game Power House Saves Energy and Money

The Facebook game Power House may finally make all those hours spent mindlessly playing games online pay off!  The object of the game is to guide a family of four through daily activities using as little energy as possible.  It is addicting and challenging, and teaches players how to save energy in real life. The game was specially designed to show players strategies for saving energy in the real world, not just the digital one.  Players move family members throughout…

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SHIELD program will increase insulting power of single pane windows

Window Films and Shades Help Cut Heat Loss

Are you a home owner who can’t afford to put in new windows quite yet? Or an apartment dweller suffering with leaky, drafty windows? According to the Daily Herald, a Chicago area paper, window shades and films can help cut heat loss significantly without spending a lot of money. 3M offers a full range of window films and claims they can reduce energy loss by up to 30%. They may also reduce sun fading of upholstery and carpeting. The bigger home…

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Author John Perlin and The Solar Cell

In a discussion today about solar energy and the coming Year of Light, author John Perlin helped enlighten me about the importance of the solar cell (photovoltaic systems) as a source for renewable electricity. What is the biggest consideration in designing a PV system, as opposed to a solar thermal system that uses multiple heliostats?   The answer: PV functions without requiring moving parts. Perlin, author of Let It Shine: The 6,000-Year History of Solar Energy, elaborates on that answer,…

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Hybrid Solar Cell Is Also A Battery

Solar cells are great. They provide us with clean, renewable energy for free. As long as the sun is shining, that is. For decades, critics of solar power have taunted that electricity generated from fossil fuels is better because it is available any time of the day or night. But what if there was a solar cell that is also a battery and could store the electricity it makes for later use? In an article published by Ohio State University this…

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Home Energy Storage Market to Grow 1000% by 2018

  Market research firm IHS says home energy storage will explode from 90 megawatts this year to over 900 megawatts by 2018. That’s a growth rate of 1000% – a staggering increase, if true. What’s driving this trend toward more in-home energy storage? IHS says its all about rapidly falling costs. The vast majority of people with solar arrays on their rooftops today are using the electrical grid as their storage medium. Any excess electricity they generate during the day is sold to…

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Foot powered soccer field

Soccer Field Lights Powered By Players’ Energy

In a Brazilian neighborhood plagued by blackouts, panels under the turf of a neighborhood soccer field, fueled by players running over them, provide electricity to light the field and the surrounding homes.  A typical soccer player can run up to seven miles during a football game.  Most of the players in this neighborhood are local children, poor, who formed a very attentive audience while the field was being installed. The panels provide clean, human powered energy to a neighborhood that…

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Your Solar Panels Are Facing the Wrong Way

Conventional wisdom says that panels should be installed facing south to get the most solar exposure (in the northern hemisphere). South-facing panels create the most power in the morning and mid-day, but peak demand for electricity typically occurs in the late afternoon. Because of that, a number of solar experts have begun to say that solar panels should really be installed facing west in order to take advantage of the demand cycle on a power grid. By rotating panels to…

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Beyond LEDs: Try Brighter Energy Saving Flat Panel Lights Based on Carbon Nanotubes

Moving forward from from incandescence to fluorescence to light-emitting diodes to carbon nanotubes! We are witnessing the inspiring evolution of lighting, all which translates to far greater energy efficiency and better living conditions. Take this news item, for instance, about carbon nanotubes in the quest for better lighting. Beyond LEDs: Brighter, new energy-saving flat panel lights based on carbon nanotubes Washington D.C., October 14, 2014 — Even as the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has enshrined light emitting diodes (LEDs)…

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‘Smart’ Lithium-Ion Battery Warns of Fire Hazard

Concerns about potential fire hazards from an overheated lithium-ion battery can celebrate this safety discovery from Stanford scientists. This discovery — a smart warning button — will provide a large boost for risk managers attempting to mitigate reported safety concerns over fires from the batteries. This press information came in today from Stanford and the AAAS: Stanford University scientists have developed a “smart” lithium-ion battery that gives ample warning before it overheats and bursts into flames. The new technology is designed…

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Books for Change: Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook – 14th Edition

Here is an updated book on solar living we look forward to receiving. Real Good Solar Living Sourcebook: Your Complete Guide to Living Beyond the Grid with Renewable Energy Technologies and Sustainable Living 14th Edition – Revised and Updated   by John Schaeffer The 14th edition of Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook  is now available. This comes thanks to New Society Publishers. We have featured other books from them. This top-selling guide by John Schaeffer has been in publication 1982.  Now in its…

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Solar City Offering Financing Programs for Home Solar

Good news on solar financing came for those wanting to convert their electrical energy supply to solar panels, but have been road-blocked by affordability issues. Solar City has announced it will start offering homeowners a new form of financing for their home solar system called MyPower. This financing method will function like a hybrid between a lease and a power purchase agreement (PPA). Here’s how it is spelled out, according to Spross: “Under a lease, the solar system is installed…

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This Solar Cell Stores Its Own Power Like a Battery

This solar cell you see magnified in these pictures is unlike any other that’s come before it- because it stores power. This patent-pending device, invented at The Ohio State University, is the world’s first solar battery. This intention has plenty of potential to be a disruptive factor for the renewable energy industry. In the October 3, 2014 issue of the journal Nature Communications, the researchers report that they’ve succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid…

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Links Leading to Today’s Solar Revolution

This miniseries on the solar revolution is based on John Perlin’s Book, Let It Shine: The Story 6000-Year of Solar Energy. We commence with the discovery of photosensitivity. Read this , then read his excellent book. Part 1 – The Discovery of the Photosensitivity of Selenium When my book, Let It Shine: The Story 6000-Year of Solar Energy, first came out several experts criticized me for not recognizing Edmund Becquerel as the direct link to the solar cells in use today. When…

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Japan Net Zero Building

Japan Pushes for Net Zero Standard on New Buildings

With the rapid pace of advancement from energy efficient smart homes, to passive homes, to energy plus homes, the architecture and construction industries are leading the way in terms of building a sustainable future. Japan, however, is hoping to ensure that sustainable design doesn’t become a passing fad by pushing for all public buildings to be “net zero” (that is, “passive plus“) by the year 2020. Sandy Dechert, over at our sister site, Cleantechnica, has the story on the changing…

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passive house - energy plus home

Passive House Recognizes Net Zero, Plus Homes

Passive House is an international building standard developed by the Passive House Institute (PHI), which is located in Darmstadt, Germany.  Building to the Passive House Standard recognizes buildings which have been optimized through passive measures and components such as insulation, air-tightness, heat recovery, solar heat gains, solar shading and incidental internal heat gains.  Buildings which meet the Passive House Standard, then, could be said to reliably deliver up to a 90% reduction in heating and cooling demand- and up to…

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