Friday, July 30, 2010

Living Learning Center Goes Zero Net Energy and Wastewater

Buildings of the future will most likely all behave like the Living Learning Center at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. As part of the Tyson Research Center, this 2,900-square-foot facility is designed to be a zero net energy and zero wastewater building. It captures rainwater and purifies it for drinking, and is powered so efficiently by solar energy that the building pumps energy into the electric grid to be purchased by the local energy company. During construction, a high percentage of construction waste (80 percent or more, depending on the material) was diverted from landfills and most materials were obtained from within a close radius of the construction site to reduce carbon emissions from travel and shipping - a lot of the wood in the project came from trees on the site. Occupational spaces contain operable windows to provide access to fresh air and daylight, and classrooms feature large roll-up doors for indoor/outdoor space.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Prep School in Hawaii Builds a Renewable Energy Lab for Its Students

Not only is the Energy Lab at Hawaii Preparatory Academy designed and constructed using sustainable principles, it helps students learn how the features work. The building supplies its own energy needs from photovoltaic and windmill sources, using only eight percent of the energy it produces with the rest net-metered to the campus grid. Its rainwater capture system filters and supplies all of the building’s domestic water, and solar thermal panels provide hot water. The building is designed for natural ventilation and uses a natural radiant cooling system instead of mechanical air conditioning. With sensors and monitoring for all systems, students are able to track all building functions - and the building can self-regulate its internal climate.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Washington State Winery Reaches for Sustainable Operations

Designed by Olson Kundig Architects of Seattle, the Cave B Winery is comprised of the Cave B Inn, Lodge and 15 guesthouses at Sagecliffe, surrounded by estate vineyards and orchards. First planted in 1980, Cave B grows a broad range of varietals that are possible due to the microclimates of its distinctive cliffside location 900 feet above the Columbia River. The placement of multiple buildings on the site and their organization were informed by topographical and geological conditions on the site, particularly the basalt cliffs, and rocky outcroppings and talus. Much of the stone for the buildings was harvested on-site or from nearby quarries. This winery helps educate local school kids about organic gardening and heirloom vegetables, as well as the benefits of eating locally. Its recycling program includes sharing grape skins with a local farm that uses them for feeding dairy cows, and providing old wine bottles to a company that remakes them into wine goblets and other useful items.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Zero Energy Community in California Innovated in 2003

Back in 2003 a housing development became California’s largest zero energy community with single family homes and an apartment complex powered by solar. Built by Clarum Homes, Vista MontaƱa in Watsonville was designed to reduce homeowner energy bills by up to 90 percent. Carrying the Zero Energy Home designation from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the development housed the largest building-integrated solar electric system in an apartment community in the United States. The 60-kilowatt system by GE made it possible for this community to produce over 90 megawatt hours of electricity annually. In total, Vista Montana has 177 single-family homes, 80 townhouses, and 132 apartments that were built with 1.2 to 2.4 kWp, and with a calculated energy yield of 1400 kWh/kWp.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Historic Solar-Powered Flight - Too Exciting for Words - Almost....

I am more than excited about the longest and highest solar-powered airplane flight that was just completed in Switzerland. This is one of those events for which I feel privileged to be alive! Back in January, we featured the Solar Impulse experimental solar-powered aircraft on Solaripedia. On Wednesday, 7 June, 2010 the Impulse was launched, and 26 hours later on the next day it landed safely in Switzerland after successfully flying through the night. The historic feat is a step toward the makers' aim of circling the globe using the power of the sun to fuel the plane. The aircraft uses super-efficient solar cells and batteries to stay in the air after the sun's rays are on the other side of the earth. If you're not ecstatic about it yet, please read more about it - the implications are staggering!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Discovery Center Teaches Ecology in Kansas City, Missouri

A Discovery Center’s near downtown Kansas City, Missouri, USA, provides a teaching tool with interactive exhibits and a landscape that shows how nature works. The building itself uses a form and orientation that optimize daylighting. A geothermal heat pump heats and cools the building. Four PV arrays with 74 collectors reduce annual energy use by about 33 percent over conventional systems. One of the central attractions is the facility’s Living Machine ( that is a wastewater system that reclaims all water from the building’s toilets, sinks, showers, and drinking fountains for treatment within an exposed greenhouse setting. The treated water is used later for flushing toilets and to recharge the outdoor wetland.