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Human Bones + Nanoengineering = Green Concrete?

Greenconcrete_2 The following post may seem a little esoteric, if not absolutely dry, but don’t be intimidated.  Bear with me a second as the idea opens up towards the end of this article.  Every year, roughly 1.89 billion tons of cement (the main component of concrete) are manufactured.  Cement accounts for about 7-8% of all human-generated CO2 emissions (a main ingredient in the recipe for climate change).  Here’s what happens: cement is made by burning fossil fuels to heat a limestone and clay powder to 1500 °C.  Then, the resulting cement powder is mixed with water and gravel and the invested energy in the powder is released into chemical bonds that form calcium silicate hydrates.  Those calcium silicate hydrates bind the gravel to create concrete. 

So, the idea goes, human bone could show us how to manufacture concrete with less CO2 emissions.  Human bone achieves a similar packing density to concrete at the nanoscale, but with human bone, this packing density is achieved at body temperature with no extra release of CO2.  Stated otherwise, bone strength is achieved naturally without having to heat powder at a high temperature, and thus, without the CO2 release.  The problem is, however, the hardening of apatite minerals in the bone takes a long time.  Say, a month or more. 

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Hamiltons Castle House Will Blow Your Top Off (S2)

Turbines

This incredible design scheme is Castle House by Hamiltons of London.  Located at Elephant and Castle, the project will have two buildings: the 43 story tower with 3 nine meter diameter wind turbines at the top and the 5 story pavilion building on the side.  I’m not really sure what stage of development the project is in, but it was supposed to start in mid- to late-2006.  With completion projected for 2009, the residential project is targeting an "excellent" rating under the EcoHomes certification system.  When complete, Castle House will have 310 apartments comprising 247,500 sf and retail units on the ground level.  More images and modeling below the jump.  Via WAN + WAN

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Green Roofs, Cleantech Investments, Monster Homes + Stellar LEED Returns (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Rooftop vegetation and gardens are catching on–though there are still many questions about how and when to apply the technique. 
  2. Cleantech venture capital investments are small but growing. 
  3. Monster Homes: Enough is Enough – some places will make you pay for that big thing. 
  4. Developer sells its LEED certified project and it was "certainly a stellar return." 

Jeriko House Explores The Platform for Living

Jh1

I’m going to be talking with the CEO of Jeriko House, Shawn Burst, later this week, but I still want to post an update on what’s happening with this Louisiana-based modern prefab company.  I broke the story on Jeriko House last January and a lot has happened since that time.  Right now, Jeriko House is smack dab in the middle of three different projects, with more on the development table.  Feel free to head on over the newly redesigned, updated website for current projects, the gallery, and other information on what the company has to offer.

Hypothetical: What Would it Take?
Jeriko House is prepared to adapt their designs for a variety of climates and sites, so they can go anywhere in the United States.  With that in mind, let me throw out a little hypothetical to satisfy my own curiosity.  Assume your are in the market for a new home and you have an empty lot.  What would it take to put a Jeriko House on your lot?  Any thoughts?  Unload in the comments.  Also, some incredible pictures below the jump.

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Are Skyscraper Farms Part of the Solution? (S2)

Vue_nocturne

With a skyscraper farm, the idea is that one can control the environment and manner of producing crops.  Unless the building is wiped out by tornado or earthquake, vertical farms have the potential to reduce weather-related crop failures.  And with modern engineering, one could set up an elaborate system of rainwater reclamation and filtering to avoid water runoff pollution.  Plus, skyscrapers go everywhere.  You could have towers in Tokyo, London, Shanghai, Dallas, or where ever, growing organic goods.  Locally-produced organic goods sans the transportation premium and carbon emissions–now that has the potential to be disruptive!  Vertical farms use artificial light and with the right combination of renewable energy power a building, I could see this being a legitimate endeavor.  Experts suggest we’re about 15 years away from realizing something like this, but hey, it’s not one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard. 

The above image is the Living Tower by Pierre Sartoux.  The first level below the jump is Gordon Graff’s SKYfarm.  The second level is the Vertical Farm by Chris Jacobs.  Link for background story; link for images.

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Project7ten Goes for Platinum, Draws Celebrity Crowd

Project7ten

Project7ten proves that ultra green can look ultra good.  This is another cool residential home project that will get LEED certified at the Platinum level.  Actually, as one of only a few LEED Platinum homes in the country, this project could become the discourse for a greener home.  The home was designed by Melinda Gray, founder of GRAYmatter Architecture, and is currently under construction.  Upon completion in the fall, there will be an open house for everyone to see how good a green home can look.  710 Milwood Avenue, Venice, California.   

The event where project7ten was introduced drew a crazy celebrity crowd with the likes of Cindy Crawford, John Cusak, David Duchovny, Toby McGuire, Laird Hamilton, Gabrielle Reece, and Ed Begley Jr.  How’s that for some ‘razzi fodder? 

So what’s going to make this home so green?  Rainwater reclamation system and grey water recycling, locally-sourced sustainable materials, recycled content countertops and insulation, FSC-certified lumber, solar panels to power the home, and appropriate landscape to shade the home during the summer and allow light during the winter.  Also, there will be Energy Star appliances and Kohler water-efficient fixtures.  The lucky purchaser will get an 18-month lease on a Ford Escape Hybrid, too.  Not too shabby.  Plus, with all the sponsors lined up to support the project, the developer Minimal Productions will donate a share of proceeds to charity.  More images below the fold. 

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