Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lagniappe House Makes Solar Right in New Orleans

The Lagniappe House in New Orleans was designed with Cradle to Cradle concepts including building orientation for passive and solar energy, selection of materials, management of energy and water, and the features provided to promote passive survivability in the event of another catastrophe.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Forest EcoCentre Employs Passive Design

Robert Morris-Nunn’s Forest EcoCentre, completed in 2001 in Tasmania, Australia, demonstrates effective climate control through clever orientation, appropriate applications of material, and passive energy use. Learn more

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Solar Electric Sails in Space

For interstellar travel, light-sail craft would depend on extremely large-scale constructions such as huge solar-power relays around Mercury and enormous Fresnel zones in the outer Solar System. Since light applies pressure to surfaces, the stream of photons can be used for propulsion in a near-frictionless environment. This concept is the background for light (or solar) sails. It is a method of space travel that would negate the need for on-board fuel. Sails using the solar wind or only the light from stars are less efficient at larger distance from the Sun. Read more at

Friday, November 13, 2009

Solar Balloons Provide Electric Power

Instead of large expensive solar panels or costly concentrating mirrors, Cool Earth uses balloons made of metalized plastic films. Half of the balloon is transparent, letting the light in to be concentrated into a small, high-efficiency solar panel by the concave interior, providing from 500 watts to 1 kilowatt. They are supported by cables, leaving the ground below clear and limiting environmental impact. See Cool Earth website

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kurilpa Bridge Is Solar Powered

The Australian city of Brisbane opened the world's first large-scale solar-powered bridge. The 470m Kurilpa Bridge accommodates pedestrians and bicycles, and sports 84 solar panels that power an array of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The panels supply between 75 and 100 per cent of the bridge's lighting needs. Read more on Solaripedia

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

International Space Station All Solar Powered

The most powerful solar arrays ever to orbit Earth capture the sun's energy and begin the process of converting it into power for the International Space Station (ISS). Eight solar panels supply more than 100 kilowatts of electric power to the station. The panels are mounted on a metal framework 360 feet (109 meters) long. The International Space Station is a large, inhabited Earth satellite that more than 15 nations are building in space. The first part of the station was launched in 1998 and it orbits Earth at an altitude of about 250 miles (400 kilometers). Visit the NASA International Space Station website. See more images at

Friday, November 6, 2009

Appalachian Students Install Wind on Campus

The Renewable Energy Initiative of Appalachian State University in Boone, NC installed a 100KW wind turbine at the university-owned Broyhill Inn & Conference Center. The project, installed by Alteris Renewables, is currently the largest wind development in the state of North Carolina. The Renewable Energy Initiative committee consists of seven student members that vote on committee decisions and five faculty/staff advisors that assist in the implementation of renewable energy systems on campus. The REI is charged with funds generated by a student green fee that is used towards bringing renewable energy technology to Appalachian State University. Some of the other projects orchestrated by the group are a biodiesel filling station for the university bus system, several photovoltaic arrays, and multiple solar thermal systems. Read more about the student-run Renewable Energy Initiative.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Zero Energy Home near Seattle Opens to Public

The Zero Energy Idea House at Bass Cove, near Seattle in Washington State, will provide approximately 5 kW of electricity to the home from its rooftop photovoltaics and a vertical axis wind generator. The home’s domestic hot water is also heated by the sun. The floors, walls, and roof of the Zero Energy Idea House are built with structural insulated panels, or SIPs, that are constructed with expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam sandwiched between sheets of OSB (oriented strand board), which is an engineered wood product made from small pieces of scrap wood. Read more at the project website The home is open the weekend of 7 & 8 November 2009. Image by Northwest Property Imaging.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Greening Our White Ski Resorts

As ski season approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, many resorts continue to find ways to offer more sustainable approaches to one of the favorite outdoor sports. While none is generating 100 percent of its own renewable energy, many are either generating some of their own power or purchasing renewable energy from utilities. According to a report by the National Geographic Society, at least 22 US ski resorts in seven states use wind power credits to supply 100 percent of their electricity use. Sustainable ski programs help you find and select “green” resorts, and provide listings of the sustainable attributes, including efforts in solar and wind power, transportation, water conservation and protection, vegetation and wildlife conservation, and energy efficiency. A few websites help sort through resorts:
Ski Area Environmental Scorecard
Ski Green Guide
Ski Green
Sustainable Slopes

Monday, November 2, 2009

Swiss Alpine Hut Powered by the Sun

The Monte Rosa Hut above Zermatt, Switzerland, is nicknamed "Mountain Crystal". The innovative building generates over 90 percent of its own energy and will serve the Swiss Federal Technical University in Zurich as an on-going research project in power and building service engineering. 2,883 meters above sea level, the New Monte Rosa Hut is currently the most complex wooden construction in Switzerland. Covered in a shimmering silver aluminum shell and with a photovoltaic system integrated in the southern facade, it generates its own power and is expected to be at least 90 percent energy self-sufficient. Solar collectors installed in the grounds generate solar heat, which provides warm water and heats the ventilation system's supply air to control the temperature in the rooms. In the few months of the year where the ice melts, the water is collected and stored in a cavern to provide the guests with flush toilets and four hot showers. A bacteria-based microfiltration system cleans the sewage; the graywater is then reused to flush the toilet and for washing. See more images at

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NYC Plans for Green Jobs

New Yorkers have turned the vision of a new greencollar economy into a realistic blueprint for implementation that other cities can follow - the NYC Green Jobs Roadmap. The plan recommends and outlines an inclusive green economy that employs thousands in green-collar jobs that help upgrade infrastructure, improve the health of our communities, and reduce our nation’s reliance on imported energy that degrades the environment. It estimates that investment in solar energy would create 42 percent more job-years per dollar than a comparable investment in fossil fuel. The Roadmap assumes that the city needs to adopt a greener, more sustainable economic growth agenda to thrive. As a global city surrounded by water, New York is particularly vulnerable to global climate instability and energy supply volatility. Globally, 634 million people live in areas most vulnerable to rising seas. The Roadmap articulates the steps necessary to make sure that the path leads to strong economic growth, good jobs, and broadly shared benefits for all New Yorkers. Read more on