Water efficiency is an important measure in green building everywhere, but in Australia — one of the driest countries in the world — water conservation is more widely practiced and water awareness is generally higher than it is in North America. In addition to pioneering water efficiency, Australians have discovered some problems due to the use of efficient, low-flow fixtures. One is the potential problem of "dry drains," however, a new invention called the Drainwave aims to solve the problem.
Several years ago, Adobe made business news by sharing how their green building initiatives saved the company big money. Its San Jose headquarters facility includes three office towers that have received three LEED Platinum certifications. Over time, the company has reduced indoor water use by 22%, landscape water use by 76%, electricity by 35%, and natural gas by 41%. Now Adobe generates on-site energy with 20 Windspire small wind turbines by Mariah Power.
We all know design will do a lot of the work in making a building green, but technology is important, too. Over the past year, we've seen some interesting innovation in a broad category of articles we call building-related green technology. Solar innovation is hot, and small wind — albeit heavily scrutinized — is doing some things also. So, check out this retrospective on green technology in the built environment (click the text links for more images and information).
We’re starting to see a number of interesting products in the building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) area of solar innovation. A company out of Grass Valley, California – Sun Energy Engineering Co. – has developed a low-profile solar shingle, or Sun Energy Shingle, to be used instead of roofing shingles or over existing shingles. It’s available in custom colors, too, depending on what kind of look you’re trying to get on the rooftop.
NanaWall Systems provides a sleek, folding, glass wall system that's seen in a lot of green homes that we mention (for example, see this Sunset Breezehouse). A homeowner may purchase a NanaWall for any number of reasons, whether to blur indoor and outdoor spaces, provide views, or draw natural light into interior spaces. Now, though, all this can be done with greater efficiency using NanaWall's new SL70 with triple glazing system.
In July, we mentioned a small wind turbine from Earthtronics and Honeywell and want to provide an update. We also have some newer images of what the actual turbine may end up looking like. The WT6500 Wind Turbine, referred to as the Honeywell Wind Turbine Gearless Blade Tip Power System, will be priced at $5,995, with early units available in select Ace Hardware Stores starting in February 2010.