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[Video] Nanosolar Causing Disruptions at 1/3 Cost

Nanosolar wants to create paper-thin, flexible solar panels that can be made at 1/3 the cost of heavy, silicon-made solar panels.  It’s important to keep an eye on tech like this because Nanosolar is currently building the largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the U.S.  If successful, this stuff is going to be on every building and structure starting in 2008.  It’s going to change the way the game is played in a major way. 

To give you an idea of how compelling, how enormous this is, check this:  the Google founders are investing in Nanosolar, an IBM manufacturing executive just joined Nanosolar, and the U.S. Department of Energy just awarded them $20 million. 

Trend Q: Modern, Green All Surface Material

Trend Q

Trend USA has just released details of their new engineered, agglomerate stone product called "Trend Q."  Trend Q is a USA-made, 1/4" surface material that is impervious to stains and fading.  It can be made in sizes as small as 12" tiles and as large as 10′ x 4′ slabs.  Containing up to 72% post consumer recycled content, Trend Q not only contributes to LEED certification, but it comes in a veritable cornucopia of colors.  Organic neutral.  Fiery orange.  Brilliant red.  You name it.  Another cool aspect of the product is that it’s made to be applied to all types of surfaces, whether it’s walls, counters, or floors.  Just bust out the water jet machine and make that magic happen. 

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Pursuing a Ken Yeang Built World

Chongqing Tower

There's an excellent interview by CNN with Ken Yeang, principle of the UK firm Llweleyn Davis Yeang.  Almost a year ago, I wrote about Yeang's fascinating Menara Mesiniaga building, and that article has been a popular one in terms of visitors.  Yeang is an ecological, architectural visionary designing in a way that blurs the boundary between the natural and human-built environments.  With eco-logical design, the goal is to build a structure with no pollution or waste.  And we're getting there, too.  To quote Yeang, "we'll see green buildings long before 2020 — I think the movement is intensifying. Within the next 5-10 years we'll see a lot more green buildings being built. Not just buildings but green cities, green environment, green master plans, green products, green lifestyles, green transportation. I'm very optimistic."  The green buildings pictured in this post are only a fraction of those designed by Ken Yeang.  If you're looking for more information, feel free to pick up his latest book: ECODESIGN: A Manual for Ecological Design

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VERDIER Solar Power Camper, Rethinking Westfalia VW

Verdier Solar Power Camper

Based on the old "hippy" classic VW Westfalia camper, Alexandre Verdier has completely redesigned the Westfalia into a modern, green camper with major appeal.  This camper is powered by a 200 hp hybrid (fuel or diesel) + electric engine.  Some other features include solar panels on the camper roof (40 watt – 12 volt), GPS navigation, wireless internet, and a sink with 4 spots for cooking.  Priced at $69,000, I’m thinking there’s market for something like this.  Don’t you?  Video + images below; via Modern Flat

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Home(scale) Brings Innovation to Modern Green Project for Philly

5th Street View

I’ve been sitting on details of the newest green development in Philly and I just can’t hold it any longer.  Actually, CEO Steven Nebel shot me an email and said it was okay to use the renderings.  The development is called High Street Development, and it’s expected to be a net zero energy, mixed use community.  High Street Development will have modern residential units ranging in size from 1000 to 2100 sf.  Recently, the project was presented to the community and enthusiastically received, which I think is due to the project’s innate approachability and sustainability.  Let me explain that. 

The developer, home(scale), has three primary goals in mind with this project: (1) offer a project with the sophistication of something like the Hearst Building in NYC, (2) make it at a price point that is affordable to an average middle-class consumer, and (3) provide high-class, superior amenities that look incredible.  To do this, you have to be smart and resourceful–it takes serious effort and experience to create an approachable product without all the cost overruns.  Currently, home(scale) is working with Silpa Inc., an environmental consultancy, to provide the best systems, whether that’s shared geothermal and solar systems with fully automated controls, or otherwise.  There’s also going to be a car sharing program for residents.  But these are just a few of the details being finalized.  Expect to see High Street Development completed sometime late winter or spring 2008.  More images below. 

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Human Bones + Nanoengineering = Green Concrete?

Greenconcrete_2 The following post may seem a little esoteric, if not absolutely dry, but don’t be intimidated.  Bear with me a second as the idea opens up towards the end of this article.  Every year, roughly 1.89 billion tons of cement (the main component of concrete) are manufactured.  Cement accounts for about 7-8% of all human-generated CO2 emissions (a main ingredient in the recipe for climate change).  Here’s what happens: cement is made by burning fossil fuels to heat a limestone and clay powder to 1500 °C.  Then, the resulting cement powder is mixed with water and gravel and the invested energy in the powder is released into chemical bonds that form calcium silicate hydrates.  Those calcium silicate hydrates bind the gravel to create concrete. 

So, the idea goes, human bone could show us how to manufacture concrete with less CO2 emissions.  Human bone achieves a similar packing density to concrete at the nanoscale, but with human bone, this packing density is achieved at body temperature with no extra release of CO2.  Stated otherwise, bone strength is achieved naturally without having to heat powder at a high temperature, and thus, without the CO2 release.  The problem is, however, the hardening of apatite minerals in the bone takes a long time.  Say, a month or more. 

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