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Leaf-like Solar Shade Both Functional, Educational

Veil Solar Shade

Buro North, a design firm located in Melbourne, Australia, has partnered with Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) to develop this interesting solar-collecting sun shade called the "Solar Shade" for Australian elementary schools.  The Solar Shade concept is part educational and part functional.  Of course, when used in clusters, Solar Shades provide a shaded gathering place that generates energy for the school.  But in addition, the device demonstrates and educates students on the dynamics of harvesting solar energy.  The foundation of the Solar Shade includes LED lights that provide feedback as to whether the orientation is/is not optimal.  When the LEDs turn red, students can grab the handle and rotate the device to absorb more of the sun’s rays.   Although still a concept, it’s kind of a cool idea — maybe enthusiasm for the project will push it into production?

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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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