I’ve been watching plug-and-play solar systems like the one offered by SpinRay Energy to see how viable and affordable these can get. It turns out GoGreenSolar.com just unveiled a similar system called the SunPlug Plug n’ Play Solar Kit. The kit includes one 235-watt polycrystalline panel, a 120 VAC/60 Hz grid-tie inverter, racking mount, WiFi module for monitoring, and a connector to plug directly into an AC outlet.
Accessory dwelling units (ADUs), urban micro homes, and tiny houses typically have space limitations and may even have energy and water constraints. So it’s critical to find appliances that are both energy-efficient and the right size — like this Ariston’s Elegance line of combination washer/dryer units. Available in white or silver, the Ariston washer/dryer is 33.5″H x 23.4″w x 22.8″D and has Energy Star certification.
I mentioned Wattvision previously, and the company is now running a Kickstarter campaign to deploy its complete the next generation of hardware, cover more types of power meters, and deploy the new hardware by about January 2013. Wattvision 2 includes a sensor that attaches to your home electricity meter and a gateway that connects up with your internet network. With these in place, a user can check electricity use online or from a smart phone.
This is VOLKsHouse, and it’s a prototype for an affordable, net-zero energy family home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In terms of achievements, the home carries an Emerald rating from NAHB and is also the first certified Passive House on the New Mexico market. The project was developed by investor Bob Schneck, Certified Passive House Consultant Jonah Stanford and architect Vahid Mojarrab, all with MoSA Architects, as part of a Passive House Initiative which includes a linked home and office condo called the Balance House.
I spent three days camping and hiking in the mountains of Utah last week and used my iPhone to snap the above photo while slightly downhill from the summit of Mount Timpanogos, which has an elevation of 11,749 feet. In preparation for this trip, I researched for a sustainable, backpacker-worthy solution to keeping my iPhone powered in order to take photos, jot notes, listen to music, and maybe communicate with family when presented with an available signal. I don’t have an iPad, but this solution works for both iPhones and iPads, either one. Here’s what you need:
If you want to wind up a building scientist, you might mention the topic of insulation. Better yet, mention the advent of expanded cork insulation in the United States from Portugal-based Amorim Isolamentos. The insulation is made from leftover material from cork bottle stopper production which is heated and sliced into boards, according to Alex Wilson of BuildingGreen. Thus, the insulation is rapidly renewable and entirely natural.