U.S. Wood Design Awards

This call for wood design nominations is for all lovers of wood! The due date is fast approaching (September 30 deadline) to nominate work for the Wood Design awards. Here is pertinent information from the website: Wood Design Awards celebrate excellence in wood design, engineering and construction, as well as innovative projects that showcase attributes of wood such as strength, beauty, versatility, cost effectiveness and sustainability. The Wood Design Awards program is intended to recognize architectural designers with the exception of…

Read More

Origami Robot Folds Itself Up, Crawls Away

Think 3D printing and origami robots. Very interesting technology here from an MIT and Harvard team. For years, a team of researchers at MIT and Harvard University has been working on origami robots — reconfigurable robots that would be able to fold themselves into arbitrary shapes. In the August 7 issue of Science, they report their latest milestone: a robot, made almost entirely from parts produced by a laser cutter, that folds itself up and crawls away as soon as batteries…

Read More

LEDs Shine in Bedding Plant Production Study

LEDs shine brightly in a new study. Growers of annual bedding plant seedlings or plugs work to produce compact, fully rooted transplants with a large stem diameter and high root dry mass–qualities that make seedlings less susceptible to damage during shipping and transplant. To achieve these desirable qualities, greenhouse growers in northern latitudes must rely on supplemental lighting from high-pressure sodium lamps during winter months. A new study shows that light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can give greenhouse growers other lighting options…

Read More

Strength Tests & Simulated Earthquakes in Reno

 Meet the Earthquake Engineering Lab at University of Nevada, Reno. Engineers report a concrete bridge spanning 70 feet has survived an ongoing series of simulated earthquakes. We salute this kind of research. Structural tests like these should provide fundamentals in the design and development of new buildings and infrastructure worldwide. Take a look at this VIDEO. 70-foot-long, 52-ton concrete bridge survives series of simulated earthquakes University of Nevada, Reno’s new Earthquake Engineering Lab hosts multiple-shake-table experiments A 70-foot-long, 52-ton concrete…

Read More
Renewable energy from solar and wind power

How Green Is Renewable Energy?

Thanks to ClimateWire for their interesting article on research into the environmental impact of manufacturing the equipment used to create renewable energy, something we don’t often discuss.  An excerpt is below: When it comes to energy, you have to invest some in order to get some. Whether drilling for oil or baking silicon for photovoltaic panels, there is an energy price for the energy we produce, researchers say. However, these considerations are often in a policy blind spot, and most…

Read More

Green Discoveries: Magnetic Refrigeration

Refrigeration, a critical technology that supports, among other things, food and medicine sustenance in the 21st century, has no claim to having left behind it the greenest footprint. Without it, however, modern civilization would be nowhere near the same. Now a new discovery concerning magnetic refrigeration may open new paths for better environmental tools. Read this press release from AAAS concerning the work of Canadian and Bulgarian researchers. Magnetic cooling enables efficient, ‘green’ refrigeration WASHINGTON D.C., June 10, 2014 –…

Read More
Design of the Farmery

Farmery Brings Urban Farms to Town

The Farmery, a combined grocery store and urban farm where grocery shoppers not only get a glimpse of how their food is grown, but also get to harvest some of their own ingredients, is the dream of Ben Greene and a team of eight others. With many urban areas suffering from a lack of options when it comes to fresh produce, The Farmery seems to offer a glimmer of hope.  Mini-Farmeries are already up and running in places like Durham, NC,  where fans…

Read More

'Greener' aerogel technology holds potential for oil and chemical clean-up

Cleaning up oil spills and metal contaminates in a low-impact, sustainable and inexpensive manner remains a challenge for companies and governments globally. But a group of researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is examining alternative materials that can be modified to absorb oil and chemicals without absorbing water. If further developed, the technology may offer a cheaper and “greener” method to absorb oil and heavy metals from water and other surfaces. Shaoqin “Sarah” Gong, a researcher at the Wisconsin Institute…

Read More

Lithium-ion Batteries: Improvement with Nanoscale Research

Collaboration between UC San Diego and the National Labs could lead to new battery architectures New research led by an electrical engineer at the University of California, San Diego is aimed at improving lithium-ion batteries through possible new electrode architectures with precise nano-scale designs. The researchers created nanowires that block diffusion of lithium (Li) across their silicon surface and promote layer-by-layer axial lithiation of the nanowire’s germanium core. Shadi Dayeh, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering…

Read More

Natural Gas: A Step In The Right Direction

This post by Grady Winston addresses critical energy fuel and energy issues we all need to think about as a population that’s addicted to fossil fuels. I have no doubt some renewable enthusiasts will challenge Winston’s argument for using natural gas as opposed to oil or coal, saying it’s not nearly enough and it’s still a fossil fuel. But its cleaner combustion can’t be — and shouldn’t be — overlooked, especially as we see increasing evidence on the damaging effects of global…

Read More

Guest Post: Tokyo Off Nuclear Energy Grid

As a result of this problem, Japan’s trade minister, Yukio Edano, would like to bring back online two of the nuclear reactors currently offline. In order to resume operations of these facilities, however, he would need to receive the support of both the governor and mayor of the region, who both have expressed concerns regarding the safety of doing so.

Read More

Green and Super-Sized?

Can a 10,000 square foot house really be green? Is a hybrid GMC Yukon SUV an oxymoron? At what point does the alleged greenness of something go from truly being green to mere greenwashing?

The environmental bandwagon is getting crowded as more and more people recognize the benefits and importance of going green. Sometimes it is out of a genuine sense of commitment to green principles. But sometimes it is just marketing.

Green houses are one area where this is becoming an issue. Houses which many people would consider oversized behemoths are being touted for their supposed greenness. In a recent article, Jetson Green pointed out the absurdity of a 9,800 square foot house in Larkspur, Colorado being called a "green" building. A couple of weeks ago, when I attended a GM-sponsored event (along with David Anderson), I test-drove a 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid. How truly green are these?

Read More