Just last week, DesignBoom brought us news of this cactus-inspired design for the Minister of Municipal Affairs & Agriculture building in Doha, Qatar. It's a fascinating example of biomimicry — the skin of one of the hardiest plants of the desert is applied to the design of the facade of a desert building — with hundreds of smart shades that open and close depending on the strength of the sun.
Solarsmith, a green building firm out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, recently helped Betsy Armstrong and Richard Barr build an eco-friendly, traditional southwest-style home in the foothills of Santa Fe. The residence's roof is filled with solar panels, which are tied into the grid, helping to heat water for the radiant floors, exercise pool and appliances. Excess energy is fed to neighboring homes.
With all the recent discussion about crumbling infrastructure and stimulus spending, it seems appropriate to talk about a design proposal that is actively addressing many issues that are showing progress across the country. Project Green, slated for downtown Austin, Texas, represents a comprehensive approach to sustainability in the context of an urban, mixed-use development. In addition to incorporating the usual features like solar panels and wind turbines, this proposal takes a serious approach to handling the most precious resource on earth. Water.
What's Sunday evening without a little Ty Pennington and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? I don't catch it every week, particularly if the Dallas Cowboys are on, but the program is a juggernaut for helping people in real need. So we caught news that ABC was planning a green show for April 6 and were put in touch with the team doing a 5 kW solar photovoltaics installation. They're using the Akeena Andalay system, which we mentioned previously was a Top 5 Green Building Product (as voted by the builders). The Akeena Andalay system is pretty sharp, and Linda Panitz, a solar evangelist herself, was on the set with Akeena to install the system. Here's our Q&A:
Google is testing a prototype product that they've dubbed the PowerMeter, which is designed to convey electricity use information to electricity users. PowerMeter is premised on the famous phrase by Lord Kelvin: "If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it." Accordingly, the PowerMeter takes energy consumption information from your smart meter and gives it to you in real time using the iGoogle gadget. It's a dead simple concept — certainly the most low hanging of low hanging fruit. An absolute no-brainer that's important and more crucial than ever.