Tuesday, October 12, 2010

BedZED Community Success and Lessons Learned

BedZED was initially developed to become a carbon neutral residential community south of London in Sutton. More than seven years after its completion, the community showed excellent progress towards that goal and learned that some green technologies did not work as planned. For example, one of the original goals was to generate enough electricity with PVs to power up to 40 electric vehicles for 10,000 miles a year (88 Mwh/year). However, as of 2007 there was only one electric vehicle on-site, so the community was at about 20 percent of its original goal. Energy use, however, showed a 45 percent reduction compared to the surrounding Sutton average. Designed by UK architect Bill Dunster, this community continues to provide a great model for sustainable urban development, using recycled materials, a combined heat and power plant, a living machine, passive design with wind scoops for natural ventilation, vegetated roofs and a host of other features. Plus it's fun to see with its colorful rooftop projections. BedZED includes 82 residential homes, 18 live/work units, commercial workspaces, and several on-site facilities.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Malawi Boy Harnessed Electric Wind in Africa

William Kamkwamba was a young teenager when his family's poverty forced him to give up formal schooling. He found some books at a tiny local library that explained the principles of electricity and physics in pictures and diagrams; because the books were in English, a language he did not speak or read, he studied the images to figure out how he might create a wind machine to generate power. From a nearby junkyard, he gathered scrap metals, an old bicycle dynamo, a tractor fan, a bicycle wheel and frame, and PVC pipe. He assembled them atop a tower from branches that he cut from blue gum trees in his village. He didn't even have tools, but fashioned his own to create his windmill. He ran a wire from his wind generator to his house to power a couple of lightbulbs. Eventually his story became news, he became famous and he became a student at Dartmouth College studying engineering. His windmill has propagated into several windmills and solar panels that provide electricty and irrigation to his small village in Malawi.