Monday, June 21, 2010

South African Winds Blow Hard for Football (Soccer)

"The World Cup is an important event for South Africa's future and we wanted to show that renewable energy has a big part to play in that future. We wanted to show the world that it is possible to do renewable energy not just in Europe, but in Africa as well," said Tanguy du Monceau, managing partner at carbon consultancy CO2logic, in an interview with Business Green. Sow the world they did, as Belgium-based wind farm developer Electrawinds won the race to connect its first South African wind turbine to the grid ahead of the opening ceremony on 11 June 2010. It began providing energy free of charge to the Nelson Mandela Bay Football Stadium in Port Elizabeth where many of the World Cup games were scheduled to play in the tournament.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Architect Designs Passively Cooled School in Burkina Faso

Architect Francis Kere writes that the permeable suspending ceiling, the inclined corrugated sheet roof as well as the completely obvious shaded windows ensure a natural ventilation of the rooms in the L-shaped school addition he designed for Dano, Burkina Faso, in Africa. Compared to conventional construction methods there, for which mechanical air-conditioning is usually required, this is the more sustainable solution in the face of limited fossil resources and increasing energy prices, he says. "This especially applies to a country like Burkina Faso, which is ranked second to last place on the UN poverty list and which has to meet its entire energy demand by importing fuel." Kere uses local workers throughout the construction process - local artisans are trained in new techniques, ensuring that building methods will stay within the community. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Kere said about his architecture training in Germany, "In the back of my mind, I was thinking about going back to my country later to improve building methods there. That was my idea from the very beginning." As someone from a rural African community where more than 80 percent of the people are illiterate, who got the chance to attend higher education in Europe, he regards it as his duty to use his skills for the benefit of the people of his home continent. The Dano school received a Global Award For Sustainable Architecture. (Image ©2010 Diébedo Francis Kéré Architecture)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bladeless Wind Turbine Won't Harm Birds

A bladeless wind turbine whose only rotating component is a turbine/driveshaft could generate power at a cost comparable to coal-fired power plants, according to its developers at Solar Aero. The New Hampshire-based company recently announced its patent on the Fuller wind turbine, which is an improvement on a patent issued to Nikola Tesla in 1913. The bladeless wind turbine is completely enclosed in a relatively small compact unit. Instead of using wind-powered blades to rotate a shaft and generator, the Tesla-inspired design consists of an array of closely spaced, parallel, thin metal disks separated by spacers. When air flows in the spaces between the disks, the spacers are arranged in such a way as to provide inward momentum to the air, causing the disks to move. The disks are connected to a shaft by spokes, so that the rotating disks cause the shaft to rotate as well. As explained in the patent held by Howard Fuller, the turbine design “provides maximum efficiency in converting wind energy to mechanical power.”  -  by Lisa Zyga

Friday, June 4, 2010

Biodynamic Farm Powers More Than Plants with Sun

Tani Creek Farm in the Pacific Northwest uses sunlight for more than just growing vegetables. In the misty hills of Bainbridge Island, across Puget Sound from Seattle, Washington, a 25-acre biodynamic farm uses solar power for all its agricultural needs such as irrigation, water movement (pumped from ponds to other uses) and food production, as well as for residential purposes. Contrary to popular belief, solar power in the cloudy Pacific Northwest - where Bainbridge is located - is a viable energy alternative to fossil fuels according to solar contractor Jeff Collum of Sound Power. The farm's 29-kilowatt system covers two outbuildings and are part of the owner's mission to create a self-sustaining farm that uses clean energy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Victoria's Dockside Green Does It Right

Dockside Green is located near downtown Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. It is a 15-acre master-planned waterfront community consisting of three neighborhoods designed to incorporate New Urbanism, smart growth, green building and sustainable community design. Dockside Green presents a model of urban regeneration through brownfield reuse, green design, and community building. A model for holistic, closed-loop design, Dockside Green functions as a total environmental system in which form, structure, materials, mechanical and electrical systems are interrelated and interdependent - a largely self-sufficient, sustainable community where waste from one area provides fuel for another. An example is its membrane bioreactor package wastewater treatment plant that recovers heat from sewage, bathwater, and dishwater. Dockside Green is intended to be built over 12 phases in three neighborhoods, with a total of 1.3 million gross square feet (73 percent of which is residential) in 26 buildings, housing 2,500 residents. (There are currently over 450.) Dockside Wharf is the initial neighborhood, with two primarily residential projects and two commercial buildings. The first phase of the Wharf, a LEED Platinum condominium project named Synergy, sold 85 percent of its 96 units in 3 hours with the first residents moving in May 2008.

Key sustainable features:

•The biomass energy system, which uses waste wood as fuel through a gasification process.

•Passive solar heating.

•An advanced building envelope and high-performance window glazing to help prevent heat loss.

•A 100-per-cent fresh air system with heat recovery.

•High-efficiency lighting and occupancy sensors.

•A 65-per-cent reduction in indoor water use with dual flush toilets, low-flow fixtures and use of graywater for sewage conveyance.

•Treatment of 100 per cent of the site’s wastewater in a campus-wide plant, which reuses it in central water features, toilet flushing, and on-site irrigation.

The project is one of a handful in Canada to achieve LEED Platinum and the first master-planned development to target this level of certification.