The Cutting Edge of Sustainable Home Design

One university's quest to revolutionize the built environment.

The Many Faces of Green in Architecture

Much is made these days of attaching the word śgreenť to products and/or buildings as a means of promoting a product or building in the market place even though the greenness or sustainability may be tenuous at best. I believe it is timely to make clear and to discriminate as to just exactly what do we really mean when we refer to a building as being green as well what kind of green are we referring to. We are all not talking about the same green therefore I wish to examine what I see as the main categories of śgreenť.

Using Smart Technology to create a RealGreenHome

In 2005 I swapped a perfectly good town house on 198sq m of land for 5400 sqm of land of śvalley Grassey Forestť vegetation. This block some 22 km from the centre of Melbourne Australia (Australia's 2nd largest city) was going to be perfect for my growing family.

Venture Capital Gets Back In The Cleantech Game

Venture capitalists increased investments in alternative energy by 73 percent over the past three months, according to a report issued Wednesday , an indication that the horrible market conditions from earlier this year may have abated. Investors are also be growing more confident because the government is making good on promises to try to shift the national energy policy more toward wind, solar and other renewable technologies. Venture capital investment totaled $572 million in the second quarter, according to Ernst & Young LLP.

China to subsidize 50% cost of Solar Projects

China's Ministry of Finance has unwrapped plans to subsidise half the cost of building independent solar-array projects in the country , including new power transmission and distribution systems to link projects to the grid. The subsidy will stretch to 70% for solar projects in remote regions with no current power supply, as the country continues searching for ways to create demand for its domestic PV industry.

Utility-scale, Zero-emissions Hydrogen Power Plant

Jetstream Wind Inc. officials said the $219 million plant would use electricity from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen would then be burned in a turbine - similar to those used by natural gas-fired power plants - to generate enough electricity to power about 6,000 homes and businesses. The 10-megwatt plant also would be capable of capturing and storing oxygen in liquid and gaseous forms for use in the medical field or other secondary markets.

Malaga = Smart City

The Malaga SmartCity initiative has been launched introducing a new urban energy management model in a bid to improve energy efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions and shift consumption to renewable energies. The €31 million project involving eleven companies under the leadership of Spanish energy company Endesa, aims to provide a holistic response to the environmental challenges facing consumers.

CONTROL4 SECURES $17.3 MILLION TO FUND SMARTGRID PRODUCT INITIATIVES

"Our innovative home automation and energy management solutions provide exciting new energy monitoring and control capabilities that meet the needs of utilities and energy-conscious consumers," said Will West, CEO at Control4 . "This funding will help us maximize this new market opportunity by advancing Control4's ability to control and integrate with other devices in any residence or business connected to a Smart Grid. With this financing, we can increase our resources to deliver products desired by homeowners, businesses and utility companies alike."

Alt Energy = $$$ in Rural China

In Meiquan Village near Lashi Lake, Zhang Chengui says he has been able to maximize profits by spending more time growing crops since installing a biogas digester-greenhouse, solar water heater, energy-efficient stove and rain-collecting cistern. He installed them with loans from the bank and grants from The Nature Conservancy , becoming in 2003 the first in his village to adopt alternative energy. Since then, his income has tripled to 40,000-50,000 yuan ($5,800-$7,300), he said.

UK could control 45% of global offshore wind market

The UK's offshore wind and wave generation industries could generate up to £70bn ($114.5bn)and up to 250,000 jobs if the country takes a "bold approach to commercialisation", says the Carbon Trust. To achieve this, the UK would need a comprehensive package of technology focused support including investment of up to £600 million in R&D, removal of regulatory barriers and new incentive mechanisms to accelerate deployment of offshore wind power around our coasts. According to the Trust's new study wind and wave generation alone could provide at least 15% of the total carbon savings required to meet our 2050 targets.

US JOINS INTERNATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY AGENCY

The United States today joined 130 other countries as members of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Ambassador Reno Harnish said: "The United States is extremely pleased to join IRENA. President Obama is committed to renewable energy to mitigate climate change, ensure energy security, create green jobs and lead a green recovery. Joining IRENA allows us to cooperate with 130 other nations to speed market adoption of renewable energy around the world."

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: THE HIDDEN, COST-SAVING, WIN-WIN STRATEGY IN HOUSE-PASSED ENERGY/CLIMATE BILL

Hidden in the voluminous American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) are cost-effective energy efficiency provisions that are the “golden keys” to addressing the nation’s most pressing economic and environmental concerns, the Alliance to Save Energy said today . The energy efficiency provisions are expected to save billions of dollars and create hundreds of thousands of jobs, greatly reducing any economic costs from other parts of the bill. According to the EPA, the energy efficiency provisions will save consumers 7 percent on their energy bills in 2020.

Exxon's Electric Car

Despite Exxon Mobil Corp.'s well-publicized stance in support of fossil fuels, the oil giant said on Tuesday that it is sponsoring a program to bring a zero-emission electric vehicle to Baltimore. The car, called the Maya 300, is a partnership between the oil company and electric-vehicle maker Electrovaya. Exxon is providing parts for the Electrovaya's lithium-ion battery. The Maya 300 is slated to be available for sale in 2011, but visitors to the Maryland Science Center can test drive it for free, beginning on Tuesday, on a track inside the building. Full story here.

Tesla Wins $465M in DOE Loans

It's official: Tesla Motors has won approval for $465 million in low-interest direct loans from the Department of Energy under the delayed Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. Tesla, which now sells a $109,000 electric sports car, has just been awarded what the DOE calls "conditional loan commitments" to set up manufacturing in California. This represents a huge step for the startup on its at-times bumpy road to producing the long-planned electric sedan, the Model S, and accelerating its nascent battery pack supply business.

Smart Payment System for Energy

This new device will let utilities offer consumers the latest smart energy technology using the proven TaleXus smart pay-as-you-go (PAYG) platform. EnergyPOINT.net™ will allow consumers using a smart key PAYG meter the convenience of purchasing energy credit and managing payments online. Consumers will top up their smart key by inserting it into a specially designed unit that plugs into a computer's USB port. They will be able to add credit to their meter by accessing a custom webpage, via their utility's website, and will purchase energy using a debit card.

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