This is the Helix Wind Turbine, a small-wind, residential scale option that could cut your electricity bills in half, if installed and situated properly. This 2-kw grid-tie or off-grid system is designed to catch winds at lower speeds. And it won’t hurt the birds, either. According to the company’s website, the Helix System is inexpensive, reliable, and simple — it’s a good choice for low wind speed residential and commercial applications. The Savonius turbine based design catches wind from all directions creating smooth powerful torque to spin the electric generator. Perfect customers live in areas that have amenable small wind zoning and get about 10 mph of wind/cross-winds. Via EcoGeek.
Hot on the heels of a growing bundle of green retailers comes news of Kohl’s future plans for new construction. Starting in 2008, newly constructed retail stores will be built to LEED certification. Currently, Kohl’s has plans for about 80 new stores and the changes will include adding more insulation, using recycled or reusable building materials, ensuring that materials are locally supplied, and controlling lights, heat, and cooling from central headquarters to prevent excess energy consumption. Twenty-two stores in California will use solar power to supply roughly 40% of their energy needs, and three stores in Wisconsin will use solar to power about 20% of their energy needs.
Matt Allert took second place in the Cascadia Region GBC‘s Emerging Green Builders Natural Talent Design Competition this year with his idea, the Dwelling Dock [pdf]. The Dwelling Dock is premised on the idea that sustainability should begin with the most basic building block of our communities: the dwelling. It’s an attempt to fully integrate the infrastructure of the housing unit with the environment. Although purely in concept stage, the Dwelling Dock would be prefabricated, and would include all the accoutrements we’ve come to expect in green homes: pervious paving, recycled materials, living roof, water collection, and photovoltaic panels.
Allert’s goals for the Dwelling Dock project include some of the following: (1) collect rainwater for re-use, (2) produce energy on-site, (3) minimize site disturbance and preserve existing site resources, (4) use local materials, and (5) integrate sustainable design with recycled, low-VOC materials. And I’ve got to admit, I really like the design elements. Butterfly living roof. 3-level living. A healthy mixture of privacy and transparency. Would you live in one?
The Big Dig House by Single Speed Design is a testament to recycling. More than 600,000 pounds of material were recovered from the massive Boston transit project known as the Big Dig and were reused to make this 3,400 square foot house. Temporary road sections (formerly used as access ramps for a bridge), support beams that shored up a slurry wall, and other pieces were saved from being sent to a landfill and instead became the bones of this unique home.
Graham & Brown, the well-known 60 year-old wallpaper company, now claims that, "about 50% of an average roll of our wallpaper is made from renewable resources." Their claim is backed by the FSC logo, which appears on all Graham & Brown wallpaper. Now, that isn’t really a staunch enough commitment for me, but in the wallpaper world, Graham & Brown is one of the only companies making any real effort towards "greening" themselves. Some of their other environmental policies are more impressive. For example, they run a Waste-to-Energy Plant, which means they use their pollution to create more energy on-site instead of releasing into the environment. They also use recycled rainwater, have special drainage systems to reduce runoff, and use non-acidic inks and coatings, which are more eco-friendly than conventional methods.
I have never been much of a fan of wallpaper: it’s a pain to put up, it’s a pain to take down, and the patterns were traditionally dowdy and drab. But, in the new wave of retro-modern, bright, and bold patterns, I have become a convert.
A few days ago, Foster + Partners released design details of their newest mixed-use project in Astana, Kazakhstan — Abu Dhabi Plaza. This clustered matrix of multi-level buildings will include retail, leisure, hotel, office, and residential uses. David Nelson, Senior Executive and Head of Design at Foster + Partners said, "We are extremely excited to be working on this important project for Astana that will provide a new urban destination – visually and functionally. The design has resulted from a rigorous analysis of the city’s extreme climate, which has generated the unusual cluster diagram and has determined a façade that is both distinctive and highly efficient." In this geography, the temperature can get as cold as -40 degrees Celsius, and Foster + Partners found that the compact situation of buildings helped to maximize thermal insulation during the harsh winter months. The development also includes a series of temperate, year-round gardens with a network of sheltered pedestrian routes throughout the site. Light shafts between the blocks will have laminated glass panels that shower colorful light, shadows, and patterns on the lower levels.