Twenty teams have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to compete in the 2007 Solar Decathlon, which takes place in Washington D.C. from October 12-20, 2007. As part of the competition, teams are challenged to design, build, and operate the most attractive, energy-efficient solar-powered home. Using only energy from the sun and with an eye towards modern design, teams meticulously choose the products and materials that go into their home. Interestingly, at least five teams, including MIT, UT-Austin, U. of Maryland, U. of Cincinnati, and Lawrence Technological University, are using the Warmboard Radiant Subfloor system. I’ve noticed the increasing use of Warmboard in several green projects, so I thought I would do a small post on the subject.
When I was growing up, if there was an errant light or something on, my dad would take my brothers and sisters into the room and say something like, "kids, this light isn’t going to turn itself off and it isn’t free to keep on either." Needless to say, I learned to turn things off at a young age. To make this process easier, two pieces of technology aim to eliminate the need to micro-manage electronics in your home.
There’s the GreenSwitch and the House-Off Switch. The premise of each is that there’s a singular switch that turns off all non-essential electronic items that have been set up to the switch. The designer of the House-Off Switch (pictured top left) is Jack Godfrey Wood, who is based in London (and I’m not sure whether his concept is being marketed at this point). The GreenSwitch (pictured top right) is the real deal and is supported by our favorite green expert, Ed Begley Jr.
Here’s how the GreenSwitch works. The central switch controls all the slave components that have been set up and home installation takes about an hour. There are 4 simple pieces you may use: (1) master switch, (2) thermostat control, (3) slave wall switches, and (4) outlets. You decide what you have a tendency to leave on or which areas are vampires and install the proper piece at that position. The relay between the master and slave is wireless, microchip-controlled radio frequency (RF) based communication, so there’s no getting in the attic with wires, etc. And as a side note, according to the Department of Energy, 10-15% of the what you pay for on your energy bill is from stand-by or phantom power, so to the extent that you can trim that down, you’re saving money. Basic Kit MSRPs for $1125.00.
A quick, but interesting, little tidbit of information … in Haringey, a city in the UK, the city council hired a company to use a military-style plane outfitted with a thermal imaging to take pictures of every structure in the area. They took the heat loss information from the pictures and created a color-coded map identifying the various levels of heat loss for each building. As you can see from the image shot above, the dark red homes are really losing some heat. By visiting the Haringey Interactive Heat Loss Map, you can scroll over each gray dot and get the address of that particular energy loser. I’m not sure if the data has led to any improvements (there’s definitely a concern over privacy here in the U.S.), but it’s probably led to some interesting discussions: "Excuse me neighbor, did you know you’re a red house? Well, I’m a blue house and I think I can help…" Via CD + TechDirt.
- Vehicle to Grid Technology – Power to the people: run your house on a Prius.
- Fitter. Happier. Better. Greener. Science shows sustainable design does more than help the Earth, it makes you feel better, too.
- AlwaysOn Going Green 100 – a first annual list of the hottest private companies in greentech.
- There’s a new trend in residential energy: being the first small wind turbine on the block.
- Aspiring to be America’s greenest city, state commitment helps Sacramento rank No. 2 in energy efficient office space.
You may have heard of Jay Leno’s Green Garage, but have you heard about him installing the Delta II wind turbine on the building to generate electricity? Delta II is an American-made, vertical axis turbine designed by PacWind. It’s a 9 foot, 500 lb. beast with the ability to produce 10 kw of power at 28 mph winds. One of the benefits of this design is that it can start producing electricity at lower wind speeds … to get a more specific idea, feel free to watch this installation video at Popular Mechanics.
Jay’s Green Garage was recently on the newest episode of Living with Ed, and according to the show, Jay plans to expand his arsenal of Delta II wind turbines. We’ll keep an eye on the news to see how many he adds to the building. What does this mean? It sounds like he’s happy with the turbine’s performance, which is a good thing because the small wind industry is still trying to gain momentum and traction. Delta II MSRPs for a cool $19,995.
CNET and Michael Kanellos went on the scene at XtremeHomes‘ factory to walk through the process of building a modern home. The video is just over 3 minutes long and talks about the efficiencies and environmental benefits of factory-built homes. Towards the end, there’s a small portion with Michelle Kaufmann demonstrating the NanaWall; she’s having the mkLotus built right now at XtremeHomes’ factory and the home will be unveiled at West Coast Green.