This Week in Energy News – February 22, 2013

This week in Jetson Green Energy News, New York City is preparing for the next big storm and a California land rush could result in alternative energy providing the state with 100% of its power needs.

New York City East River Blueway Plan

Proposed: Four Miles of Manhattan’s East River to be Redeveloped with Storm Barrier

WXY Architecture + Urban Design, working with local officials and community groups, has developed the East River Blueway Plan to redevelop a stretch of Manhattan’s waterways to combat storm water surge, calling “for the creation of wetlands, parks, bicycle and pedestrian pathways and bridges, and the redevelopment of a disused beach under the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Toyota Sponsors 4,500 Trees for New York Restoration Project MillionTreesNYC

Founded in 1995 by Bette Midler, the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) has launched the MillionTreesNYC effort, a collaboration with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and other local organizations that has plans to plant one million trees in New York City by 2017. Toyota has already agreed to sponsor the planting of 4,500 trees towards this year’s annual goal of 15,000.

Renewable Energy Projects in California Could Meet 100% of the State’s Power Needs

A land rush on California’s farming region to plant solar farms adds up to 227 proposed solar projects that, combined with wind and other renewable energy sources, “generate enough electricity to meet 100% of California’s power needs on an average summer day,” the California Independent System Operator says.

Net-Zero Certification Program Launched by EarthCraft Virginia

Currently in a pilot stage, a two-art certification program being designed by EarthCraft Virginia will provide projects and homeowners with “Net-Zero Ready” and “Net-Zero Certified” status for energy-neutral and energy-positive residential buildings. The program is targeted to new construction in the southeastern United States.

National Research Council Report Advises Department of Defense to Continue LEED Efforts

A new report that has been compiled by the United States National Research Council, as requested by Congress, on “the use of energy-efficiency and sustainability standards for military construction,” has reviewed previous efforts by the U.S. Department of Defense to achieve LEED Silver or equivalent ratings in new construction and major renovations and gave them the “thumbs up.”

Renewable Energy Breakthrough Uses Geometry to Trap Solar Power

Researchers at Illinois’ Northwestern University have found a way to triple the period of time that light can be trapped within thin-film photovoltaic cells by “manipulating the arrangement of a polymer layer on an organic solar cell.”

Emerging Technologies Could Affect Building Industry Sustainability Efforts

A list of the most promising technology breakthroughs, released by the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Emerging Technologies, which are expected to enable humans to deal with problems related to tackle population growth, resource demands, and other sustainability issues, included organic electronics, three-dimensional printing, self-heating materials, and remote sensing.

Public Demonstration of Tiny Houses in Washington D.C. Aims to Change Minds and Regulations

Boneyard Studios, founded by Brian Levy and Lee Pera, has created a community of tiny, movable houses as public demonstration of the trend in residential downsizing, hoping to “encourage changes in local laws to permit smaller, more affordable living options here and on vacant land across the city.”

Changing Business Models to Embrace Sustainability Equates to Increased Profitability

A study conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group has revealed that “companies reporting profits from sustainability rose 23 percent in 2012, to 37 percent of the total” and that “that companies in developing countries change their business models as a result of sustainability at a far higher rate than those based in North America, which has the lowest rate of business-model innovation and the fewest business-model innovators.”

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University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Institute Achieves LEED Gold Status

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The University of Wyoming’s Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center has been awarded LEED Gold certification for a variety of sustainable building features.

The university is home to Laramie’s only living roof, and is known for sustainable features including locally sourced building materials, native or adapted landscape vegetation, natural air ventilation, and building exhaust energy recovery.

The Berry Center is a 44,000 square foot building located in the northwest corner of campus, housing multiple groups and individuals that study animals, plants, and other organisms. The space contains laboratories, archive facilities, four classrooms, and office space for faculty and grad students.

berry center 2

“It’s fitting that a bunch of scientists interested in biodiversity conservation should work inside a green building, because sustainable building practices support our goal,” says Dorothy Tuthill, building administrator and associate director of the Biodiversity Institute. “We use the Berry Center as a teaching tool. We can show that green building features not only reduce human impacts on the natural world, but that the outdoor space, including our native-prairie green roof, can actually enhance biodiversity in an urban environment.”

A few notable sustainability features include racks to hold 140 bicycles, low-flow showers in changing facilities, low-emitting wood, paints, carpets, adhesives, and sealants, vast use of natural daylight, low-flow faucets and toilets, and the 3,600 square foot green roof.

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This Week in Energy News – February 8, 2013

German PV Installations Set New Record

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The Federal Network Agency of Germany (Bundesnetzagentur) photovoltaic solar (PV) installation counts that set new records at 7.6 GW of PV power plants installed and connected to the grid.

First Solar Acquires New Mexico Solar Power Project

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The 50-megawatt solar power project First Solar has acquired from the solar division of Element Power is billed as the state’s largest and raises questions about solar energy as a commodity.

Siemens Energy Launches New Offshore Wind Turbine

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With a generating capacity of four megawatts and a rotor diameter of 130, the new design was launched at at the annual conference of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) in Vienna.

NRG Solar Starts Operation of Alpine Solar Generating Station

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NRG Energy, Inc. announced its 66-megawatt (AC) photovoltaic facility has started commercial operation, which is now California’s largest fully operational solar plant.

New Australian Proposal for Solar Use on Public Housing

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Western Australia Greens have announced their $68 million plan for the installation of solar PV panels on roofs of public housing homes and apartments

Scotland to Invest in Low Carbon Action Plan

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The Scottish Government announced plans to invest over $1.8 billion in the next three years on climate change strategies with goals to “cut carbon emissions from electricity generation by more than four-fifths by 2030.”

Spain Breaks Wind Farm Energy Record

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The Spanish Wind Energy Association says that Spain’s wind farms produced more electricity than other power sources, delivering over 6 terawatt hours during January.

Minnesota Utilities to Phase Out Coal Plants

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Minnesota Power, the state’s second-largest utility, will be phasing out coal production at two facilities and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ordered Otter Tail Power to stoop burning coal at one of their plants.

UK Investing in Wind Farms

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The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is investing £50m on six wind farms through a stake in a renewable energy fund.

See the article here: This Week in Energy News – February 8, 2013

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Gulf Islands Cabin by Olson Kundig Provides a Single-Room Retreat in British Columbia

This gorgeous Gulf Islands Cabin by Olson Kundig Architects is the perfect spot for nature lovers to escape for a cozy weekend retreat. Located in British Columbia, the minimalist space consists of one wood-paneled room, with a secure exterior made of corten steel that ensures safety from storms and fires.

The single bedroom is secure on a concrete foundation, and provides just enough room for a bed, chair, toilet, stove, and kitchenette. There is a shower outside on the porch, and the roof overhangs on each side for plenty of shade and protection from natural elements. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide plenty of natural lighting through the front of the cabin, and a movable steel exterior can be closed over it for protection while not in use.

As the steel and exterior begins to weather, it will blend in more with its natural surroundings and begin to emulate a rustic cabin in the woods. There’s even a small section of outdoor wood storage, which enhances the log cabin look and provides plenty of material for campfires all summer long.

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See the article here: Gulf Islands Cabin by Olson Kundig Provides a Single-Room Retreat in British Columbia

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Mehoopany Wind Farm Now in Full Commercial Operation

Mehoopany Wind Farm Windmill Farm

BP Wind Energy and Sempra U.S. Gas and Power announced in early January 2013 that their $250 million wind farm project in Pennsylvania has gone into full commercial operation. The Mehoopany Wind Farm, located about twenty miles northwest of Scranton, is the state’s largest wind project.

“This is a great project all the way around,” said Sempra US Gas & Power president and CEO, Jeffrey W. Martin. “The State of Pennsylvania has been a recognized leader in providing critical fuels to help grow our nation’s economy for over a century. This project continues in that proud tradition by harnessing clean, sustainable wind energy that will benefit mid-Atlantic customers for decades to come.”

Mehoopany Wind Farm Installation

Each of the 88 GE xle wind turbine generators on the farm has a rated capacity of 1.6 megawatts (MW). All together, they should produce about 141 MW of electricity. Long-term power purchase agreements, made possible by the National Renewables Cooperative Organization, are in place with Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. and Old Dominion Electric Cooperative.

“Today’s announcement is an important milestone that marks yet another success for the BP and Sempra US Gas & Power teams that have worked so hard to deliver this project into full commercial operation,” said BP Wind Energy president and CEO, John Graham, in a recent press release. “We appreciate the on-going support that we have received at both the state and local level and look forward to a long-term partnership in the community.”

Mehoopany Wind Farm

In addition to the contribution to the power supply in the region, the project created more than 400 jobs during the course of construction and about 10-15 permanent employees will be needed to maintain and monitor the facility, which will be operated by a wholly-owned affiliate of BP Wind Energy.

In the last five years, BP has made more investments in the United States than any other oil and gas company, investing more in the United States than in other countries. Since 2005, about $8 billion of BP Alternative Energy investments have gone towards alternative energy development. US BP Wind Energy has interests in sixteen wind farms that are located in nine states with a gross generating capacity of around 2,600 MW.

Mehoopany Wind Farm windmill

Milan’s Bosco Verticale On Track to Become World’s First Vertical Forest

Bosco Verticale Forest

Milan, Italy is one of Europe’s most polluted cities, its air quality frequently breaching safety limits set by the EU and causing city officials to install a ventilation system in 2009 in an effort to reduce damage to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper that resides in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. In 2003, a medical study compared breathing air in Milan to smoking almost a pack of cigarettes each day. On top of that, there is less space dedicated to vegetation in Milan than any other Italian city.

Short on space for increasing the presence of greenery, the city turned to architect Stefano Boeri to create the world’s first vertical forests, incorporated into the “Bosco Verticale” apartment towers, currently under construction and nearing completion.

Bosco Verticale Build

The two residential towers, which are part of a rehabilitation project in the historic district between Via De Island Castillia and Confalonieri, loom 111 meters and 78 meters and will be home to over 900 trees that cover nearly 9,000 square meters of terrace space. They are 24 floors and 17 floors high with combined capacity for 730 trees, 5,000 shrubs, and 11,000 plants.

In addition to producing oxygen, mitigating smog, and providing an ecosystem for insects and birds, the trees and plants on the terraces will help to cool the apartments and reduce the energy costs for air-conditioning, especially when summers in Milan can get hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The vertical forest idea has inspired a social housing tower in Spain, called the Torre Huerta, and a “Flower Tower” in Paris that features nearly 400 bamboo plants on its ledges.

Bosco Verticale External

Bosco Verticale Forest Build

Bosco Verticale Build -1

Kanga Room Systems Make the Perfect Office, Guest Room, or Studio Space

Whether your home is in need of a small studio space, office, or extra guest bedroom, Austin, Texas-based Kanga Room Systems is the perfect portable option. The modern, eco-friendly buildings are designed with portability in mind, and are custom-made to fit your existing home with bathroom, kitchenette, and multiple room options.

Prices for a Kanga Room System range from $7,150 to $15,500, with size options between 8’x10’ and 14’x24’. Each one comes with a treated skids foundation, EPDM roof membrane, galvanized fascia flashing, cedar accent siding, a metal door with full lite glass, and several other unique features made of quality materials.

The system is shipped right to your home from Texas as a kit, where you or a contractor can assemble it. Kanga uses eco-conscious, sustainable, and energy-efficient materials whenever possible, and they are always customizable for specific aesthetic or environmental needs.

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Read the original post: Kanga Room Systems Make the Perfect Office, Guest Room, or Studio Space

Port-a-Bach Features Stylish Home Design in a Portable Container

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The Port-a-Bach home is designed by the New Zealand Atelierworkshop architectural firm of Cecile Bonnifait and William Giesen, whose “approach is orientated towards reconnecting people with a physical reality, a territory, its history and a cultural context.” They believe that up-cycling containers can be effective solutions in projects where site access and portability are concerns.

The prototype for the Port-a-Bach home was built in China and shipped to New Zealand where they are now looking for commercial partners to begin mass production. Designed to be a holiday home, I think that the Port-a-Bach would appeal to tiny home dwellers and perpetual travelers alike.

It is portable and secure, with a high level finish and is designed with the environment in mind.

Port a Bach portable container home internal

With space for two adults and two children to sleep, it could be used as a living space for short- or long-term use, perhaps while a custom home is being constructed or if you are leasing your land and don’t want to invest in a permanent structure.

Power, water, and sewer can be supplied independently, as it is suitable for land that has been developed for utilities or is yet undeveloped. It can be situated on a wide variety of ground conditions by way of six concrete footings that serve as a non-invasive foundation.

The Port-a-Bach can be transported by helicopter or truck and installed with a minimal amount of impact on any site. It can be folded into a fully-enclosed exterior steel shell to be stored or secured or relocated.

Features include cupboards and shelving, stainless steel fittings, and kitchen appliances. The bathroom has an open shower, a sink, and a composting toilet.

Port a Bach portable container home internal

An fabric screen system for the interior of the structure provides for the option of creating room divisions on-the-fly, and an exterior canvas can be used to cover a deck area to expand the living space outdoors.

Port a Bach portable container home unfolding

Port a Bach portable container home Night

O+A Architecture Builds Pavilion Out of Recycled Shipping Containers in Amsterdam

This recycled shipping container stage was created by architecture studio O+A in celebration of Amsterdam’s Over het IJ theatre festival’s 20th anniversary. Made of locally sourced materials, the containers have been retrofitted to create a temporary space designed for live artistic performances.

The repurposed containers were used as building blocks, creating a lasting impression for visitors with its overwhelmingly large scale. The horizontally stacked containers were used as pop-up stores, platforms, and even a restaurant, featuring long tables and a corrugated bar.

The three-dimensional checkerboard structure provides indoor and outdoor space that is raw yet cozy, the perfect combination for architecture enthusiasts and festival visitors who need a space to relax after a long day of festivities.

Roundhouse Garden Buildings Inspired by Yurts

Rotunda Tiny House

Rotunda Living, a small home builder based in the United Kingdom, has designed some small, contemporary round houses inspired by nature’s shapes and elements. They look like the perfect backyard getaway to use as a studio, guest bedroom, pool house, or meditative escape space.

The design is similar to a yurt, but with solid walls. The plan is to use locally-sourced materials and a local supply chain to create quality, sustainable materials that will not sacrifice aesthetics. Each design uses natural, breathable, and efficient materials for insulation and construction, providing a healthy environment that inspires creativity in an atmosphere inspired by nature.

Rotunda Tiny House

If you’ve always wondered how closely you could incorporate nature into the design of a small home or room, these roundhouses offer an option that is pretty close. For more information on their designs and inspiration, visit rotunda-living.co.uk.

Rotunda Tiny House Interior

Images via Rotunda Living

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Continued here: Roundhouse Garden Buildings Inspired by Yurts

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