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Rainwater Collection Gaining Huge Mainstream Momentum

Rainwater

There’s kind of an edgy, underground movement of conscious homeowners and environmentalists that are finding creative ways to capture water and reuse it for their needs.  BusinessWeek’s Malia Wollan just wrote an article called "Rainwater collectors work to ease shortages," and she talks about the popularity of the movement.  In the article, Wollan mentions a website called HarvestH20, which has seen an increasing number of visitors seeking information and advice on rainwater collection and reclamation. 

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Solar Cell Tree Charger for the Home

Treecharger

This solar cell tree charger by Vivien Muller is kind of interesting.  You can use it to recharge your cellphone, camera, or whatever, because it has 54 tiny photovoltaic panels and an internal battery that stores energy.  The modular parts are connected and can be rotated infinitely creating a different tree for your favorite sunny spot at home.

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Parans Fiber Optic Skylights Bring Natural Light to Dark Spaces

Parans - Huvco

Update 8/08/2012Parans is now available through Wasco.

The interesting thing about fiber optic lighting is that it creates the ability to put natural light in places where there is none.  Generally, here’s how it works.  Using a building-mounted panel with computer-controlled, sun-tracking lenses, natural light is channeled through optical fibers to luminaires that diffuse the light (see diagram below).

Since early 2008, HUVCO Daylighting Solutions has been offering a fiber optic lighting system like this, or the Parans System, which was developed in Sweden.  Although light only travels about 60 feet through optical cables, the ability to direct light in this manner is quite interesting.

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Solar Verde Zero Energy Green Homes

Solar Verde

I’m dedicating this article to all the traditionalist readers out there — I must admit, though, I’m seriously hesitant about the design here, but I know some of you love this style.  What I love, however, is the idea that green homes and communities can be zero energy.  That’s what Solar Verde is all about.  Solar Verde is a planned community of 20 homes and the developer claims its the first development east of the Rocky Mountains to offer a roof-top photovoltaic system as a basic design feature.  Homes come with a 4 kW solar PV system made with SOLARSAVE roof shingles.  As you can tell, the developer finished the first two model homes last July for this south Chicago green community.   

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Standing Seam BIPV with a Quick Payback

EnergyPeak

We keep hearing about thin film solar innovation and building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), but it may be hard to image how this technology will play a part in the future of our buildings.  But I think CENTRIA Services Group has a product that could certainly change that: EnergyPeak.  They’ve combined the flexibility of laminate photovoltaics (LPV) with strong, durable standing seam roof panels to create a rooftop solar option with a fast payback.  I mean, just look at the diagram and check out its immediately recognizable benefits:

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RoofRay Your Building's Solar Potential

I just noticed this RoofRay mashup that uses Google Maps and various other information to help you calculate the solar potential of your building.  It’s pretty interesting, actually.  You can find your building, trace the potential solar roof area, adjust the calculations based on your estimate of orientation and angle, and then see what you have.  After that, you start entering in your electricity usage information and the company you purchase electricity from (watch out though because they didn’t have Rocky Mountain Power’s information and may not have your information yet).  After that, you cruise along where they start to provide you with an estimate of the system’s cost, rebates, and potential savings, etc. 

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