- 07/12/2016Non-profit organization OHorizons recently created an innovative BioSand Filter that can deliver clean water at 1/10th of the cost of traditional methods. The filter hinges upon an open-source Wood Mold that can be easily built by anyone using the construction manual, which is available for free online.
The team of technical, social, and commercial professionals at OHorizons creates simple, easily implemented, low-tech applications that empower communities without the need for external capital or expertise.When designing new products, they follow certain principles to ensure wide adoption. The design must be simple, low-cost, locally sourced, flexible to meet the needs of different communities, and open-source (available to the public, non-proprietary). As such, the Wood Mold is accessible by anyone via the open-source, online construction manual. Literacy, technical skills, or electricity is not required, though the user needs some way to acquire the blueprint. OHorizons collaborates with local organizations that are already active in local community development, including LEDARS Bangladesh, which supports the construction and distribution of the Wood Mold manual in that country. OHorizons also supports projects in Ecuador, Kenya, and Mali.
Over the past year and a half, over 400 people or organizations have downloaded the Wood Mold Construction Manual to create their own locally sourced BioSand filters. As a result of these distributed Wood Molds and the collaborative work to utilize them, 5,500 people have gained access to sustainable safe drinking water access in their homes in 2016. Based on their success so far, OHorizons has set the ambitious goal of providing 1 million people in Bangladesh with safe drinking water access, via the Wood Mold BioSand filters, by 2021.
- 06/12/2016Scientists blend photosynthesis and quantum physics to improve solar cells. Four physicists at the University of California, Riverside decided to blend photosynthesis and quantum physics to work towards greener solar cells. Plants effectively regulate energy flow from the sun, but since current affordable man-made solar cells hover around just 20 percent efficiency, the scientists decided to take cues from vegetation.
Current solar cells require feedback controllers and voltage converters to manage fluctuations in the amount of energy streaming from the sun, and end up wasting loads of energy. Their lack of efficiency is one hurdle standing in the way of mass adoption. But plants don’t need such hindering mechanisms. The UC Riverside team decided to reevaluate solar energy conversion in light of both photosynthesis’ efficiency and quantum physics principles.
The physicists created what UC Riverside calls a novel kind of quantum heat engine photocell, a device that assists in the sunshine-to-electricity conversion process. Their new photocell draws on two quantum mechanical photocell systems that absorb either one or two colors of light, allowing the photocell to alternate between absorbing light at high and low power. According to UC Riverside, this innovation could allow a photocell to “convert varying levels of solar power into a steady-state output.”
For UC Riverside assistant professor Nathan Gabor, who took part in the research, the journey to a better solar cell started in 2010 with the simple question, “Why are plants green?” He found out no one truly understands why, and decided to search for an answer. His quest, drawing on his physics background melded with deeper study into biology, may unlock the secrets to a more effective solar cell.
Comments06/12/2016 #2 Ken Boddie#1 Thanks for this interesting article, Claire. I'm still experiencing some of the ups and downs of the solar industry here in Oz and have worked my way through a few 'cowboy' installers. But it looks like the future is looking much better than my so called 'state of the art' investment for my own roof 5 years ago. My solar panels are doing well but it seems that they work most efficiently at low temperature. Daytime temperatures here in Queensland average in the upper twenties (Celsius) for most of the year and get up into the thirties in the summer, but when we get an occasional 10 degrees or less at night time, then the power spike when they start up at dawn can cause damage to the inverter. I'm now on my third inverter but have now hopefully found an installation/maintenance company with sustainable knowledge and performance to mqtch the sustainable energy concept. Looking forward to the high and low power absorption concept becoming commercial reality, although I can't pretend to understand the photosynthesis / quantum physics solar principles.
- 05/12/2016French biochemist Pierre Calleja has designed a fascinating eco-friendly lamp that could light up streets and parking garages while cutting CO2 emissions. It runs completely free of electricity, powered solely by a tube filled with glowing green algae. The lamp uses the energy created by the algae’s own photosynthesis process to power the light within, while the algae itself lives on CO2 in the air outside.
The lamp is designed so it can store the energy from photosynthesis for later use. That way, when it’s transported into low-light areas, it can glow without the need for any external power source. A single lamp could absorb roughly a ton of carbon from the air in just one year — the same amount as 150 or 200 trees. If these lamps could go into mass production, they could go a long way toward fighting climate change and reducing air pollution.
Interestingly enough, the lamp isn’t the only novel application Calleja has found for microalgae. He and his team at FermentAlg are already using microalgae for all kinds of applications, from a sustainable source of Omega 3 supplements to a base for natural cosmetics. They’ve even figured out how to harness algae as a source of biofuel.
- 04/12/2016Turning roads green with solar powermoney.cnn.com The Netherlands tried it when they built the world's first solar bike path in 2014 and now France wants to move it into the fast lane. French Energy Minister SÃ©golÃ¨ne Royal is planning on building 1,000 kilometers of solar road over the next five...
- 03/12/2016Mushrooms are good for so much more than just eating. Ecovative, the company behind Mushroom Packaging, has teamed up with cement-growing company bioMASON to create classy furniture grown entirely from microorganisms and mushrooms. Living organisms are put to work to create the sustainable mushroom furniture in radically innovative processes. Ecovative and bioMASON’s furniture is grown – with mushrooms, microorganisms, and agricultural waste – and consumes far less energy than traditional furniture manufacturing. The pieces draw on Ecovative’s use of mycelium for the legs, and on bioMASON’s biocement, grown with a little help from bacteria, for the marble-like tabletops on the duo’s Tafl Table and King’s Table. The resulting furniture is toxin-free. To read more go to:- http://inhabitat.com/furniture-grown-from-bacteria-and-mushrooms-is-now-available-for-purchase/
Comments05/12/2016 #5 Lada 🏡 PrkicThe concept of cultivation the materials is revolutionary. The new building materials are made from yeast, bacteria, mould, mushrooms...... The possibilities for applications are endless, from architecture and construction to the ordinary, everyday objects. An appropriate article for the Interesting Engineering, Technology and Discoveries hive. :)03/12/2016 #2 Chas Wyatt#1 @Claire Cardwell 🐝, I actually find their original product and direction more interesting- using mycelium as packing material for shipping which is bio-degradable, as opposed to the petroleum products such as styrofoam and bubble wrap which stays in land-fills for years. I hope the company doesn't lose direction. I thought their original idea was brilliant.
- Producer02/12/2016The Importance of InsulationHeating and cooling accounts for up to 50-70 percent of the energy used in an average home. Installing Insulation in your house is the most practical and cost effective way of making your home more energy efficient keeping it warmer in winter and...
- 02/12/2016How stone can help you create a more sustainable home
From the pyramids at Giza, to Stonehenge, to Machu Picchu, it is no coincidence that all of the longest lasting human structures are made from stone. Stone lasts forever, is natural, and is readily available in the environment. When it comes to outdoor landscaping or interior applications that see a lot of use and moisture (i.e. kitchens and bathrooms), natural stone is often the most durable and lowest-maintenance choice for surfaces. Unlike wood, plastics or composite materials, stone will not rot, mildew or disintegrate over time. From granite, to marble, to slate, read on to find out more about how natural stone can help you create a more beautiful and sustainable home. To read more go to :- http://inhabitat.com/how-stone-can-help-you-create-a-more-sustainable-home/
With energy prices spiraling out of control, many businesses are searching for ways to reduce and control energy costs. Wind power is the fastest growing alternative energy segment. The wind power market has been dominated by large horizontal wind turbines. They have the traditional blade design that looks like a giant fan clustered mostly on “wind farms” located in rural areas. These large systems seriously compromise the ability of many companies to take advantage of wind power right at their building or plant.
Comments29/11/2016 #3 CityVP ManjitI am glad to see more depth in the coverage of wind power, because the greater that coverage, the more people can continuously improve on what is a nascent market. An article by Lloyd Alter (an architect) is one I found very instructive.
Lets Get Real . . . by Lloyd Alter
This is not a nay-sayer who is against wind power, but someone who is looking at wind energy through a whole system perspective. In doing so this not only tackles the rise of unintended consequences, but it keeps eyes on the road, because as Lloyd's post shows, bizarre creations and things happen. Innovation is boosted by such awareness rather than lessened.
- ProducerWhat you need to know before installing a rainwater harvest systemWater is vital to life and is such a precious natural resource that it makes sense to collect every drop of rain and re-cycle grey water and back-washed pool water. In fact you can reduce your water bill by as much as 90% by harvesting rain...
Comments01/12/2016 #13 Claire Cardwell 🐝#11 Unfortunately the water infrastructure has not been maintained or planned very well here either @Kirsten Horner - as the city gets more and more overpopulated and dense we are about to see some major problems with water supply, this has of course been exacerbated by the drought....29/11/2016 #11 Kirsten HornerThanks Claire. We live with water saving and water restrictions here in Queensland, Australia - in between the floods! The larger water management infrastructure is under pressure and hasn't been planned or managed well for future supply, so everyone has to do their part on their own property.29/11/2016 #4 Rod LoaderA good post Clair. Here is Australia, virtually all rural homes have rain water tanks. I have four 20,000 litre tanks, which supplies all my household water (drinking, showers, etc) and water for my gardens, pool etc. I also have a bore, which is not as nice, but still drinkable, as a backup. When you rely on stored water, you are a lot more aware of water usage.28/11/2016 #2 Lada 🏡 Prkic"Water conservation needs to be a way of life.“ I second that Claire. Your article is a very good reminder of the importance of water. My homeland, Croatia, is water-rich country and also one of the countries where you can safely drink tap water. But despite this, many people in rural and suburban areas, and especially people who live on islands are collecting rainwater to reduce their bills when using water for agriculture.
In addition, several scientific studies propose to refurbish numerous abandoned traditional rain collectors (impluviums) in the Dalmatian area of Croatia to collect rain and dew water, which could provide a significant amount of water, especially during the dry season.
- Elon Musk says Tesla’s solar roof will be cheaper than ordinary roofs. He also says the energy-generating roofs will last longer than typical roofs, so, said the real-life Iron Man, “Why would you get anything else?”
At first Tesla solar roofs will be a premium product, according to Bloomberg, as the company’s slate and terra cotta tiles are 20 times more expensive than asphalt singles. But that factor could become irrelevant because of reduced shipping costs. It’s expensive to ship traditional roof tiles because they’re so heavy and fragile. Musk said Tesla’s solar tiles are easier to ship and weigh around a fifth of what regular tiles weigh.
Tesla’s tile roofs will be cheaper to both manufacture and install, according to Musk, and will provide savings to a homeowner even before energy bill savings. He said “Electricity is just a bonus.”
To read more go to :- http://inhabitat.com/elon-musk-says-teslas-solar-roof-will-be-cheaper-than-ordinary-roofs/
- Vienna will soon be home to the world’s tallest wooden building. Designed by Rüdiger Lainer and Partner, the so-called HoHo project will be built in the Seestadt Aspern area, one of Europe’s largest urban development sites. It will stand 276 feet tall and house a hotel, restaurant, and wellness center together with apartments and offices. It will cost about $65 million to construct.
Project developer Caroline Palfy, of Kerbler, tells The Guardian that her firm chose wood because of its environmental benefits. “I think it is important everyone…..thinks in different ways. We have wood, which is a perfect construction material for building,” she said. “It was used 200 years ago and it was perfect then and is perfect now.”
To read more go to:- http://greenbuildingelements.com/2016/06/10/vienna-home-tallest-wooden-buildiing/
- 18/11/2016Urban farming, food markets and parks replace banks and parking lots in this masterplan for Amsterdam - A large, circular new masterplan for Amsterdam's city center transforms existing buildings into green, pedestrian-friendly spaces. Architecture firm HofmanDujardin designed the project in order to decentralize the area and repurpose routes currently used solely by cars. Parks, food markets, smart transportation and urban farms would reinvigorate the heart of the city and create a healthy environment for its inhabitants. : - http://inhabitat.com/urban-farming-food-markets-and-parks-replace-banks-and-parking-lots-in-this-masterplan-for-amsterdam/
- 17/11/2016Are there alternatives to foam when it comes to packaging and insulation? Yes says Ecovative Design, a NY company engaged in the design, development & testing of biomaterial applications. The company has launched 2 extremely green mushroom-based products. This high-performance alternative to molded or fabricated is renewable, compostable & cost-competitive. Ecovative’s Mushroom packaging, is a “Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified alternative” to plastic packaging. http://greenbuildingelements.com/2014/07/22/green-materials-report-ecovative-designs-non-foam-insulation/
Comments19/11/2016 #3 Pamela L. WilliamsVery interesting Claire, thank you for sharing. Styrofoam is one of my pet-peeves. Our recycling program does not include styrofoam so we collect it at our Sierra Club meetings and one of the members takes it to a business that will recycle it for use in other products.
- 16/11/2016Canada Tops Out World’s Tallest Wood-Frame Building. Celebrating the tallest wood-frame building of its kind anywhere in the world, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr recently attended the “topping out” ceremony of the Brock Commons Residence.
The new University of British Columbia student housing tower rises 18 stories to reach a stunning 178.8 feet (53 meters) tall. To read more go to :- http://greenbuildingelements.com/2016/10/05/canada-tops-out-worlds-tallest-wood-frame-building/
Comments18/11/2016 #3 Claire Cardwell 🐝#2 Hi @Jan Barbosa it is an amazing structure, I think that wood would have more sound absorbing qualities than Concrete - especially with noise overhead and below. As to external noise the building does not look like it is an incredibly busy area, I guess it all depends on whether they used double glazing in the windows....18/11/2016 #2 Jan BarbosaGuess the building would need pretty good sound insulation... I live in an apartment made with concrete but guess sound insulation was NOT one of their PRIME directives !!! Believe me.. stopping noise coming thru an aluminum louvered window is almost impossible... nevertheless im amzed at such a construction using wood..
- 15/11/2016Growing fish and plants together – an untapped opportunity in Africa?www.howwemadeitinafrica.com Why PwC is upbeat about the potential for...
- 15/11/2016New Construction Materials… That Self-Repair?
Opening up a new field of design for construction technology, the US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is envisioning futuristic materials that repair themselves.
After recently launching the Engineered Living Materials (ELM) program, DARPA’s goal is to create a whole new class of construction materials. Imagine engineering living cellular systems into the structural features of traditional construction materials. The results might offer, for example, a driveway that eats oil spills; a chimney that cleans itself or heals after heat damage; surface materials that never fade or flake; or even a roof that “breathes” and controls airflow.
To read more go to:-New Construction Materials... That Self-Repair? - Green Building Elementsgreenbuildingelements.com Opening up a new field of construction technology, DARPA is envisioning futuristic self-repairing construction materials grown from...
Comments16/11/2016 #5 Lada 🏡 Prkic#1 Claire, thanks for the tag. I’m familiar with the self-healing concrete and bio-bricks and read a lot about that. This amazing concept of genetically engineered 3D structures from seeds looks a pretty bizarre but I'm also excited about its possible development. As the author of the article said, the internet was a pretty bizarre concept back in 1969, too. What is now unrealistic might become possible within 2 or 3 decades and I'm looking forward to it.16/11/2016 #4 Lada 🏡 Prkic#1 Claire, thanks for the tag. I’m familiar with the self-healing concrete and bio-bricks and read a lot about that. This amazing concept of genetically engineered 3D structures from seeds looks a pretty bizarre but I'm also exciting to watch its possible development. As the author of the article said, the internet was a pretty bizarre concept back in 1969, too. What is now unrealistic might become possible within 2 or 3 decades and I'm looking forward to it.
- 11/11/2016Cheap Off-Grid Cabin Built For Under $300 Using Reclaimed Materialsgreenbuildingelements.com Alyssa Craft and Jesse Stafford built a cheap off-grid cabin-add-on to the trailer they are living in while setting up their homestead in the Western...
- 10/11/2016Santa Clara University students recently won California's first tiny house competition with 238 square feet of technological and design genius. Called rEvolve House, referencing its ability to track the sun throughout the day to optimize solar gain, the prototypical home was designed in collaboration with Operation Freedom Paws as a low-cost housing solution for veterans training their own service dogs. To read more go to:- http://inhabitat.com/solar-powered-revolving-home-for-veterans-wins-californias-first-tiny-house-competition/
- 09/11/2016World's first streetlights powered by footsteps installed in Las Vegas. When most people think "clean energy," solar panels & wind turbines typically come to mind. What if the simple act of walking could create emissions-free electricity? Kinetic energy is a real world solution to harmful carbon pollution that is causing global warming - NYC-based EnGoPLANET partnered with the city to install lamps powered by solar panels and kinetic energy pads in the Arts District. http://inhabitat.com/worlds-first-streetlights-powered-by-footsteps-installed-in-las-vegas/
- Producer08/11/2016SolarWindow Window Coating – Versatile Solar Power Generation by Dawn Killough Peering through see-through SolarWindow™ SolarWindow™ window coating generates electricity from light, both from the sun & artificial light. It is extremely versatile & can be printed onto glass, plastic or even paper, making it easy to...
- 08/11/2016Our goals | Fairphonewww.fairphone.com We aim to create positive social and environmental impact from the beginning to the end of a phone’s life cycle. Learn more about our...
- Producer08/11/2016How to change the image of Energy's Black Sheep? Investments in R of green technologies by the oil and gas industry is a good start to change the negative perception compared to other industries.While Renewables will continue to grow rapidly, fossil fuels is expected to remain the dominant form of...
- 07/11/2016Building your house out of Straw? How about Rice Straw? https://www.bebee.com/producer/@claire-cardwell/building-your-house-out-of-straw-how-about-rice-straw
- Producer07/11/2016Building your house out of Straw? How about Rice Straw? I've just discovered that the best straw to use for building is rice straw. Pine Needle Straw and Coconut Straw also work really well, but due to the high silica content in Rice Straw it's far better than wheat straw. Rice is a staple food for...
Comments07/11/2016 #6 Claire Cardwell 🐝#5 I live in Boskruin (near the Rhema Church and Crescent Clinic (was the Old White Horse Inn). It only takes me about 20 minutes to get to Parkview on the back roads. Parkview is lovely, did you stay in one of those stunning old houses with the pressed iron ceilings? Please send me the link to your article when you write it @Paul Walters! I love the idea of a 'truth window' too.07/11/2016 #5 Paul Walters@Claire Cardwell 🐝 Wow, this is amazing. Today I was working on a piece on building straw houses for a Magazine here in Indonesia . Met an architect here in Bali who is on a quest. Rice straw is all burnt here which seems a bit ridiculous. Her first structure has been turned into a coconut oil processing centre which is proving to be successful . I like the 'truth window' she puts into the structure showing the straw under the plaster. I have to have the piece finished by thursday and will eventually post iy on beBEE . However thanks for the article ( I might reference your work in SA) By the way where do you live in Gauteng ? I used to live in Parkview !!07/11/2016 #3 Claire Cardwell 🐝#2 Absolutely - I like the lego bricks too - it will make straw building so much faster and easier. Whilst I was writing the article I wondered if a little sand and some Sporosarcina pasteurii bacteria (used for the bio bricks) would eliminate the need for the glue.07/11/2016 #2 Ken BoddieI see 'padi' straw being burnt regularly all over South-East Asia, Claire. These 'lego' bricks look really interesting and may be a viable consideration in countries like Indonesia! Potential to greatly increase lateral resistance, particularly to the 'big bad wolf' who 'huffs and puffs'? 🌪
- 06/11/2016London-based firm Zaha Hadid Architects has been commissioned to build the world’s first wooden football (soccer) stadium. The 5,000-seat space will be constructed entirely from wood, for British football club the Forest Green Rovers. Zaha Hadid Architects won a contest, which welcomed 50 additional entries, allowing them to design the stadium for the National League club.
The “green” stadium will not only be made entirely of wood, but it will also be powered by sustainable energy sources.
“The really standout thing about this stadium is that it’s going to be entirely made of wood – the first time that will have been done anywhere in the world,” said Forest Green Rovers chairman Dale Vince.
Design & Sustainability Network~ 100 buzzes
This hive is where professionals in the design and construction industry & the public get together to come up with sustainable design initiatives to solve housing and environmental issues. All over the world people are coming up with ideas to solve the endemic housing, water & food shortages. This is a forum for people to share ideas, ask questions and come up with working solutions.