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Smart Home: Green + Wired Debuts at MSI

Exterior_of_the_smart_home Exterior_of_the_smart_home_2

Architect Michelle Kaufmann has made a big splash in Chicago this week during the opening of her Smart Home: Green + Wired exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. The PrairieMod crew and myself were fortunate enough to be able to spend the past two days previewing the home and are excited to share some details with you. If you’re interested, feel free to check out our podcast interview with Michelle where she explains how the project came to be and the 5 eco-principles utilized by her firm.

The showcase "Smart Home" is Kaufmann’s mkSolaire plan, which is designed for a city lot and has a loft-like feeling to it. Its goal is to address the space challenges found with infill lots and standard row home configurations. The brilliant thing about this exhibit is that it is fully functional, not just a shadow of what the design could be. And in case you’re wondering, the house will be dismantled after the exhibit closes in January 2009.

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OptiSolar Planning Largest PV Solar Farm in World!

Optisolar Topaz Solar Farm This is big news for the green building revolution, because a solar farm like this could power roughly 190k homes in California.  Referred to as the Topaz Solar Farm, this $1 billion, 550-megawatt plant would cover roughly 9.5 square miles, and if constructed, would be the world’s largest photovoltaic solar farm.  Hayward-based OptiSolar is developing plans for the project as we speak.  According to their current time line, OptiSolar will apply for a conditional use permit in May 2008 and begin construction in 2010.  Topaz Solar Farm would then be completed over three years.

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Water + Life Museums, World's First LEED Platinum Museum

Hemet Museum

In the process of digging the huge Diamond Valley Lake Reservoir in Southern California, some significant fossils were discovered.  The fossils have been sitting around for several years waiting for a super-modern museum to call home, so The Center for Water Education Foundation and the Western Center Community Foundation commissioned Lehrer Architects to design such a place.  The result is the Water + Life Museums, a complex that just so happens to claim a right to being the world’s first LEED Platinum certified museum. 

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Bahrain WTC Wind Turbines Actually Work! [S2]

Believed to be the world’s first integrated, wind-powered mega structure, Bahrain WTC looks to be working.  The above video doesn’t really say anything, but it doesn’t need to: those twirling blades say everything that needs to be said.  Read more about Bahrain WTC here

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Swift Small Wind Quietly Coming to Market in July

Palestra

Swift Wind Turbine is a quiet, rooftop mounted wind turbine.  Unlike some designs you’ve seen previously, this one has an outer ring and five blades.  The outer ring acts as a diffuser — the wind travels down the blades and is dispersed along the ring, therefore eliminating noise and keeping the turbine quiet.  The company estimates a noise of less than 35 decibels for all wind speeds.  The 7 foot diameter ring needs a roof line clearance of a couple feet and in good winds, can generate up to 2000 kWh of power (1.5 kW @ 14 m/s). 

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First LEED Certified Parking Structure Generates Most Its Own Power

Santa Clara Civic Center Parking Lot

I realize that by blogging about this, I’m risking some criticism as to whether a parking structure can be green.  I think it can, but I’ve heard mention from others that the term "green parking lot" is an oxymoron of sorts.  After giving it some thought, I just can’t imagine a world, or a city for that matter, with absolutely no parking lot.  They’re going to exist, so they might as well be super green and zero energy, to the extent possible.  This building, which is the Santa Monica Civic Center parking structure, has a solar array that provides all the building’s energy needs.

But it’s not just energy efficient, it’s green, too.

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