This is Grow Community near downtown Winslow on Bainbridge Island in Washington. The first three model homes — Ocean, Everett, and Aria — are finished and work is moving forward for the next 24 homes and two 10-unit rowhouse apartments. The eight-acre project is the first residential One Planet Community in North America (issued by U.K. non-profit BioRegional). However, in addition to this recognition, the aim is net-zero homes and an entirely net-zero energy community by 2020.
Recall for a second a project called Rubble Floor by Dave Hakkens. Hakkens recently published another project called “Wind-Oil” to show how to use industrial processes at home to create good food. He made an oil pressing machine that’s powered by a small-wind turbine. The machine has a worm drive that presses nuts and seeds — walnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, linseeds, hazelnuts, etc — and spits out oil in one bottle and a food pulp in another.
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.
I really like the dark-blue/black look of solar PV, but I suppose there may be someone that needs a different color, whether for aesthetics, compliance, or branding, etc. Colored Solar is trying to grab a toehold in this market with red, emerald green, forest green, and polished marble panels. In terms of panel efficiency, NREL found there is little performance compromised for a 16%+ efficiency colored 225W panel, according to Colored Solar.
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:
It’s surprising how easy it is these days to line up all the components necessary for a residential-scale photovoltaic array. Solar panels can be purchased on Amazon (among other places) and tracking systems are readily available, too. If you have the land or your roof isn’t right for your needs, Arizona-based Schletter makes a ground-mount kit for up to 2.5 kW of solar PV and it can be purchased for under $1,000.