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Solar Gardens Provide Future for Distributed Energy

Before I begin writing about energy gardens, it is incredibly helpful to understand what they are, what they aren’t, and their level of independence from whatever energy utility serves the vicinity. The concept of distributed energy According to the US Department of Energy, “distributed energy consists of a range of smaller-scale and modular devices designed to provide electricity, and sometimes also thermal energy, in locations close to consumers.” A solar garden fits in this category. They include, adds the DOE,…

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RELi Resiliency Standards Complement LEED Certification

Doug Pierce is the senior project engineer at Perkins + Will. Over the past 2 1/2 years, he has developed what he calls the RELi resiliency standards as the chief investigator for the Washington, D.C.-based Capital Markets Partnership. “Resiliency is the next step in the entire green ecological design framework,” said Pierce, who is based in Minneapolis. “It’s important because over the past 30 years, we have not acted with foresight relative to the science on climate change or the…

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Shedding Light On LED Lights: Leaders In Cost & Performance

In this era of continuing attention to energy efficiency, few, if any, are going to argue the case against the benefits of using LED lights. But replacing burnt-out incandescent bulbs with LEDs is no simple undertaking, especially when it comes to price. LED bulbs, built using light emitting diodes, although certain to last longer than the Edison-style incandescent bulbs and demand less electricity, are not what you would expect to find in the nearest neighborhood bargain basement store. Another incandescent option…

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Kirigami inspires new solar cell technology

Kirigami Inspires New Solar Cell Technology

Researchers at the University of Michigan have created a lattice-like solar cell that can stretch like an accordion, allowing it to tilt along the sun’s trajectory and capture more energy.  The details of the oddly shaped solar film, inspired by the Japanese art of paper cutting called kirigami, are in a paper recently published in the journal Nature Communications. The new design helps fix a problem with most solar power systems – the sun moves and the panels don’t.  By…

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Permeable concrete system gulps water

Permeable Concrete System Gulps Water Without Puddles

In a video that has gone viral, at least in the construction industry, Lafarge Tarmac vividly demonstrates the capabilities of its Topmix Permeable Concrete system to absorb large quantities of water in a short amount of time.  According to the video, a parking lot constructed of Topmix is able to absorb 4,000 liters of water in less than a minute, with no puddles! The Topmix system is exactly that, a system.  It starts with a layer of permeable concrete, followed…

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New Rooftop Wind Turbine Technology

Wind power is a major source of renewable electric power in many places around the world. We usually associate wind power with tall wind turbines located in remote locations or far out to sea. In July, Denmark produced 140% of its domestic energy from just such turbines, according to The Guardian. Yes, that record was established over a rather windy 24-hour period, but it is remarkable all the same. Until now, small wind turbines that are sized for residential and…

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Solar Decathlon 2015 Kicks Off

Solar Decathlon 2015 Kicks Off

Solar Decathlon 2015, a design and build competition involving university teams from around the globe, kicked off today with keynote speaker US Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz.  The Decathlon asks teams to design and build homes powered by the sun that are affordable, energy efficient, attractive, and easy to live in, which are judged in several competitions.  The homes are on display throughout the competition so spectators can tour them. “These inspiring collegiate teams show the world how energy-efficient building design…

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How to Upcyle Doors and Windows for Garden Projects

We are always so excited to see cool projects that reduce waste, decrease the need for new products to be made, and help build a more green and beautiful world. Upcycling, the reuse of products for different uses, is a fun trend that you can take advantage of both inside and outside the home. You can upcycle old wood to make gorgeous coffee tables, or reuse it for functional garden boxes to grow a ton of fresh veggies. There is…

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Our 7 Favorite Examples of Innovative Airport Tech

Not every airport is equal. Even airplane passengers who will barely see a dozen airports in their lifetimes know that some airports are dramatically better than others. Yet, for pilots, attendants, maintenance professionals, and other aviation experts, it isn’t necessarily the availability of outlets that makes one airport superior to another — it’s the efficacy of the technology. Aviation tech continues to become cheaper and more efficient, but oftentimes airports get mired in their old, bungling ways. Here are a…

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First Passive House School In Maine Is Also Net Zero Energy

The Friends School of Portland in Maine is the first Passive House school building in the state, and only the third in the country.  The neighboring OceanView Retirement Community is donating solar panels for the school to use, making the facility net zero energy (NZE). “One of our core values is stewardship and we certainly apply that to our environment,” said Jenny Rowe, Head of School at the Friends School of Portland.  “This new facility not only provides a symbol…

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90% of US Homes Are Under Insulated, Study Says

Boosting Insulation Could Cut Energy Costs, Reduce CO2 Emissions and Increase Comfort Based on new research, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) estimates that roughly 90 percent of existing US single family homes are under insulated, wasting energy and money, and decreasing comfort for homeowners. “If all U.S. homes were fitted with insulation based on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), residential electricity use nationwide would drop by about 5 percent and natural gas use by more than…

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