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Windbelt Micro-wind, 10 Times Cheaper Wind Energy!!

Frayne

[Run time: 2:05 min]  I hope you enjoy this short video of Shawn Frayne, a young inventor that has created this device to generate, on the micro-scale, energy for LED lights and radios in developing countries.  This is the first approach that uses aeroelastic flutter to create super cheap electricity.  We’re talking about changing the way wind energy is harvested and captured.  Frayne won a 2007 Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics, and he deserves it.  This incredible technology is 10-30 times more efficient than the best micro-turbines.  So, Frayne hopes to fund third-world distribution of the Windbelt through sales in first-world applications.  So inspiring … 

UPDATE:  EcoGeek reports that Shawn Frayne has launched the website for Humdinger Wind Energy.  Soon, according to the website, developer kits are going to be available for schools, researchers, and independents.

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REI Boulder Continues Green Building Tradition

REI Boulder

Over the weekend, REI opened the doors on a brand-spanking new, LEED-CI Silver certified, green retail store in Boulder, Colorado.  Designed by Gensler, this store is an extension of REI’s commitment to green building.  REI’s director of store development, Dean Iwata, said, "REI’s Boulder store builds on our more than 10 years of green building experience, and helps us test concepts that will pave the way for how our stores are built in the future, including design, material selections and use of technology."  I couldn’t be happier for the company — I think I’ve found a justification to splurge $165 on a new North Face Denali jacket.  Vote with your money, right?!

The store has tons of green technology, such as specially-designed Solatubes (which save major deniro and energy).  Also, using efficient, low-flow fixtures, the store uses 30% less water than federal code mandates.  70 percent of the store’s hot water is heated through solar energy.  REI Boulder is the first retail integration of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) and uses recycled, renewable, and low-VOC materials throughout.  Plus, as many responsible builders do, REI diverted 75% of construction waste from the local landfills by using it in other areas of the store or recycling it. 

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[Video] The Green Building Revolution

It’s Friday, why not watch a little video?  High quality video content like this is hard to find online, so I thought I would share it.  A lot of people think green building is about saving energy.  It is.  But that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Buildings. Use. Water. Materials. Land. Space. Air. And. Money.  Click on over to KQED for some background information on the above video. 

National Solar Tour Day – October 6, 2007

Sunpower

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s that time again:  October 6, 2007 – The National Solar Tour.  The ASES National Solar Tour is the largest tour of sustainable energy technology for buildings in the U.S.  Now in its 12th year, some 100,000 people across the nation will see how neighbors are using clean sources of energy to save on energy bills and protect the environment.  Through a series of open-houses and informative tours, participants learn about renewable energy options, energy efficient design, real-world costs, current rebates available, and other valuable insights. 

Tours are being organized in dang near every state, so if you have the interest, there’s probably a place you can go.  Here’s the main page to find a tour near you.  Image Credit: Sunpower.

PG&E Puts $10 M Towards Ice-Based Peak Demand Energy Shifting

Ice Energy

Recently, Ice Energy, a company that makes an ice-based air-conditioning system (explained below), announced their collaboration with PG&E in California on a $10-million dollar project.  The project is called "Shift and Save," and here’s the background: in the middle of the day, when the temperature is the highest, energy demand and the cost of energy is very high.  But with Ice Energy’s product, consumers can "Shift and Save" by using energy in the nighttime, instead of the daytime.  Daytime energy consumption is the bottleneck, it’s the peak, so energy generation must be sufficient to match peak demand.  Interestingly, to the extent demand for peak energy can be permanently reduced, the need for new energy generation (i.e. coal plants) is reduced as well.  Nice. 

The system consists of a large plastic attachment for commercial air conditioning units that is filled with water, frozen overnight, and used to cool refrigerant during the day.  According to Ice Energy CEO, Frank Ramirez, "It stores energy at night, when energy is cleaner to produce, cheaper to buy and easier to obtain, and it makes it available for use during the day."  The new hardware costs about $10,500 and weighs about 5,000 pounds when filled with water.  It looks very similar to a standard AC unit.  Also, there can be an additional retrofitting cost of as much as $10,000 for existing buildings and a minimum $750 cost for new construction.  Ice Energy is testing residential models (but another company called Trinity Thermal with the IceCycle has residential models already out right now).  Anyone have experience to share?

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Lawrence Country Home with Trombe Wall, Small Wind + Solar Power

Lawrence Country Green Home

This home isn’t necessarily modern, but it has all the modern conveniences one could ask for: solar panels, small wind, radiant floor heating, air filtration system, and a trombe wall, etc.  Kent and Kathy Lawrence’s custom country home, which was completed in 2005, ended up costing roughly $300 psf.  The wind turbine alone came in at a cool $37,100 (producing 13,000 kwh/year), and that’s without tax subsidies.  And unlike many custom homes that tend to explore new boundaries of profusion, this home is only 2,200 sf.  Not bad.  But the Lawrence’s weren’t just concerned with smart design and energy efficiency.  Currently, they’re removing invasive plant species and planting native flowers, just trying to be gentle stewards of the land they inhabit.  I think this is a rather picturesque setting for a home … much the American Dream. 

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