Monday, May 10th, 2010
Taking a cue from of America’s most popular television shows, “The Biggest Loser,” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sponsoring a national energy contest entitled “Working off the Waste with Energy Star” among 14 commercial buildings across the country.
The 14 contestants will compete to demonstrate the largest percentage-based energy use reduction over a 12-month period from September 1, 2009 to August 31, 2010. The winning building will be announced in October 2010 in a public ceremony featuring Bob Harper, one of the winners of “The Biggest Loser.” (more…)
Monday, May 10th, 2010
Are Offshore Oil Rigs a Threatened Species? Is the Deepwater Horizon spill the beginning of the end for offshore oil drilling, or just another Exxon Valdez? Today, as BP attempted to place a 100-ton cap over the broken well gushing under the Gulf of Mexico, it was uncertain if they’d be able to stanch the spreading damage at sea or in Washington, D.C.
The spill has muddied the prospects for a climate bill as one of its pillars — a new round of offshore oil drilling — founders in unstable political soil, as Mackinnon Lawrence reports. Meanwhile, environmental groups are hustling to make the case, as in this Sierra Club video, that offshore oil is dirty and unsafe. Perhaps it’s not only brown pelicans and terns who will have trouble flying after all this is over, and the black tide might yet turn against its maker.
Efficiency Experts To America: Stop Dreamin’ and Pick Up Yer Caulkin’ Gun. At a symposium of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy — what, you missed it? — experts concluded that weatherstripping beats windfarms as the fastest way to save the US economy, and released some numbers to prove it. First, America is not as efficient as it thinks: the domestic economy is only 13 percent efficient, compared to 20 percent efficiency in Japan and some European countries. We were left pondering if it’s more efficient, percentage-wise, to order a veggie pizza from Papa John’s or gnaw on a frozen one from Trader Joe’s. (more…)
Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
While questions have arisen about the potential crushing effects of the current economic situation on the trend toward green commercial building and retrofitting, a team of economic researchers has concluded that the value of green building remains strong.
Among them is Nils Kok, a professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley. Speaking at an April workshop hosted by the California Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego, Calif., Kok presented an analysis of the financial performance of green office buildings in the United States. The study is based on actual market transactions and not simply engineering estimates.
Kok said that office buildings with energy efficiency certification can command higher rents, expect better occupancy rates and garner a greater sale value. The initial study was published in 2008, but follow-up analysis in October 2009 showed these values held even during the global economic crisis. (more…)
Monday, May 3rd, 2010
LEED, the building standard that has lightened the footprint of tens of thousands of structures, announced a new standard yesterday that amplifies the idea to neighborhood scale.
The standard has been in the works for years and more than 200 test sites are already built or underway, including the Olympic village that opened in Vancouver this winter. Now any neighborhood or large development is eligible to apply. (more…)
Thursday, April 29th, 2010
A Hong Kong architect performs a magic feat of “green” design by packing 24 “rooms” into a 330 square-foot apartment. The dwelling he dubs “Domestic Transformer” glows with natural light.
Growing up with a family of five, plus tenant, Gary Chang once slept in the former tenement flat’s corridor-like living room. This helped cultivate a genius for making the most out of limited elbow room.
Modular walls slide to divide the space to serve the usual daily purposes. A wall full of shelving pulls forward, revealing a panel housing a linen closet. Behind another divider there’s a bathtub, and a guest bed can flop down over it. Rather than walking from room to room, Chang makes the living spaces shift by gliding the walls from one point to another.
“The house transforms and I’m always here,” he says. “I don’t move. The house moves for me.” See how it works in the video below: (more…)
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
The Shanghai Tower will be the tallest building in China by its completion in 2014, but that is not its biggest accomplishment. The term “vertical city” has been used to describe the cornucopia of spaces that it will offer including Class-A office space, a luxury hotel, high-end retail, and event space. This aspect still pales in comparison to the building’s biggest accomplishment, its innovation in green design.
With wind turbines, a complex rainwater collection system, two envelope layers that surround nine interior sky gardens, and an ingenious design that mitigates lateral loads from wind and reduces the necessary structural steel by over 20 percent, this building is setting the bar high for super-tall buildings. Remarkably, all of these sustainable strategies are being implemented in China.
To further explain the design process and to prove that sustainability in China is not that surprising, I asked Gensler’s Director of Architecture for the Northwest Region (who is speaking on behalf of the Shanghai based project team) a couple of questions regarding sustainable building in China and how the Shanghai Tower epitomized the emerging trend.
CleanTechies: I wanted to start off by asking you what the marketplace is like for sustainable building in China. Is it as popular or as big in China as it is in the United States? (more…)
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Los Angeles has the most energy efficient buildings of any U.S. metropolitan area, and nationwide there was a 40 percent increase last year in the number of buildings that received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star designation for efficiency, the agency said.
Ranked second on the latest EPA list is Washington, D.C., where an increasing number of federal buildings are going green.
Overall, nearly 3,900 commercial buildings in the United States earned the Energy Star, which recognizes buildings that perform in the top 25 percent among similar structures nationwide in energy efficiency.
Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
For those unaware, Microsoft Hohm is an online service that allows consumers to see how much electrical power and gas they use in a given month, with suggestions on how to lower their consumption.
Microsoft recently updated this application with some new features including information pages covering every zip code in the United States and two dozen behavior recommendations for those who take the time to create a Hohm energy profile. Hohm also now features an energy breakdown dashboard that provides more detailed information about where your household is using the most energy.
Microsoft is not the only company getting in on home energy efficiency. (more…)
Monday, March 15th, 2010
A new 42-floor London skyscraper will be the world’s first building to incorporate wind turbines in the design, an innovation developers say will generate 8 percent of the building’s electricity needs.
The Strata Tower, a 408-unit apartment building scheduled to open in July, will be topped with three 19-kilowatt turbines — each with five 29.5-foot blades designed to suck wind from various angles and accelerate it through tubes, generating as much as 50 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.
It will also generate about £16,000 to £17,000 annually through the nation’s new feed-in tariff, the developers say. (more…)
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
The British government will introduce legislation that would tie new, subsidized loans for energy efficiency to a house, rather than a current owner, a move that could make energy retrofits far more affordable for most homeowners.
Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband said the new legislation would enable homeowners to take out long-term loans at lower interest rates and thus encourage homeowners to make energy-efficiency improvements that they might otherwise not have made had they planned to sell their houses in a few years.