So Sony noticed that we do a lot of book giveaways here, and they offered to let us test run a sleek, shiny, silver Sony Reader PRS-505. What’s the green angle to a Sony Reader? We can save a lot of resources if electronic readers capture the market: paper, resources to make paper, ink, transportation, space, etc. Make sure to read Smart Planet for a thorough eco analysis of the reader, though. Anyway, being avid readers, we decided to give it a shot, because, to be entirely honest, we can’t stop reading! So I opened up the box about a month ago (yep, I’ve been using it that long to be sure about what I say below), and I was blown away. Seriously. The screen is so much like paper — I couldn’t believe it. As a result, I decided, then and there, to try to make a video so you can see what I see.
It seems like there’s a new, cutting-edge technology in the limelight everyday and today is no exception. You’ve heard of CSP — concentrated solar power, right? Well Sopogy has been in R&D for several years perfecting their MicroCSP technology. They developed the above pictured application for commercial, industrial, and small utility uses. MicroCSP takes traditional, large scale, open faced, desert, parabolic trough CSP panels and shrinks them down to 25% of the size. The trough is between 12 and 18 feet long and is meant for distributed energy solutions from 200 kW to 20 MW. It can be used on-site, too, whether on a roof or adjacent to a building.
The innovators of this new technology, if they get it into production, may just be the green building revolutionaries of tomorrow. At the end of the week, MIT engineers published research of new technology showing that the sun’s energy could be harvested from a large area, such as a window, and concentrated at the edges by solar cells. With this so-called luminescent solar concentrator, the potential for low-cost electricity seems almost within reach. Technically, here’s how it works:
Earlier this week, GM announced that they were adding the world’s largest, rooftop, solar photovoltaic power installation to its car assembly plant located in Zaragoza, Spain (a factory that manufactures Opel vehicles for sale in Europe). When the project is completed in the fall of 2008, the solar installation will have 85,000 solar panels covering about 2,000,000 sf of roof space. Bloomberg further reports that the $78.5 million installation will avoid about 7k tons of emissions per year.
It’s clear our country is reaching what future generations will see as a watershed moment as it relates to our current energy situation and how we handle it. In the U.S. alone, buildings account for roughly 70% of electricity use and 39% of energy use, so any discussion of our energy future naturally implicates the built environment. The current state of discussions on our energy future has brought together some incredible minds and one of those is the great T. Boone Pickens, an expert in recognizing scarce resources and future energy trends. Just today, he announced his efforts relating to the PickensPlan — a plan he explains himself in the above video.
Now, I think Mr. Pickens is definitely probing one of the better ways to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil, but I also think he’s skipping over an important aspect of this discussion on our country’s energy mix.
Just a little over a year ago, on May 4, 2007, Greensburg, Kansas was smashed by a tornado that pretty much decimated everything. Since that time, the city has made news all over the world for its ambitions to rebuild everything in an environmentally-friendly way. City buildings larger than about 4000 sf will be LEED Platinum, etc. So this building, 547 Arts Center, is an example of the green reconstruction process going on in Greensburg. 547 Arts Center is the first building certified as LEED Platinum in Kansas and has some incredible green elements — not to mention three small wind turbines twirling away above the roof line.