Building a House of Light and Wind

David Biello on the daunting physical logistics of scaling up green energy:

“It’s not just a matter of making the necessary equipment, it’s also a question of finding the space for it. A coal-fired power plant produces 100 to 1,000 watts per square meter, depending on the type of coal it burns and how that coal is mined. A typical photovoltaic system for turning sunlight into electricity produces just 9 watts per square meter, and wind provides only 1.5 watts per square meter.

The challenge is worse for smaller countries: the United Kingdom would have to cover its entire landmass with wind turbines to provide enough electricity for the current Briton’s average consumption — roughly 200 kilowatt-hours per day, according to MacKay, the Cambridge expert.”

>  21 January 2011 | LINK | Filed in , ,
TV Guide. Coming soon to television: a new EnergyGuide label! All TV’s manufactured after May 10, 2011 must display a label disclosing the television’s estimated annual energy cost and comparing it with the annual energy cost of other televisions with similar screen sizes.

I heard the design process was quite contentious at the FTC before settling on the familiar motif. The yellow EnergyGuide label has been used since the 1970’s for washing machines, refrigerators, and other large appliances sold in the US but never before for electronics. By making long term costs visible at the point of purchase, this humble bit of information design has saved an enormous amount of resources over the last 30+ years. It’s also a nice nudge to manufacturers who know the information will be public.

TV Label
>  11 December 2010 | LINK | Filed in , , , , ,

The Biggest Polluter

Ecology Now!

Each year Project Censored compiles a list of 25 urgent stories that are grossly underreported. But on this year’s chilling list, the scale of this one is just staggering:

“The US military is responsible for the most egregious and widespread pollution of the planet, yet this information and accompanying documentation goes almost entirely unreported. In spite of the evidence, the environmental impact of the US military goes largely unaddressed by environmental organizations and was not the focus of any discussions or proposed restrictions at the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This impact includes uninhibited use of fossil fuels, massive creation of greenhouse gases, and extensive release of radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air, water, and soil.

The extensive global operations of the US military (wars, interventions, and secret operations on over one thousand bases around the world and six thousand facilities in the United States) are not counted against US greenhouse gas limits.…

As it stands, the Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world, producing more hazardous waste than the five largest US chemical companies combined. Depleted uranium, petroleum, oil, pesticides, defoliant agents such as Agent Orange, and lead, along with vast amounts of radiation from weaponry produced, tested, and used, are just some of the pollutants with which the US military is contaminating the environment.”

The horror goes on and on and on.

And it makes me think a lot of sustainable designers may be fighting the wrong war.

>  28 October 2010 | LINK | Filed in , , ,
Color of Cool. “Relying on the centuries-old principle that white objects absorb less heat than dark ones, homeowners like the Waldreps are in the vanguard of a movement embracing ‘cool roofs’ as one of the most affordable weapons against climate change.”
>  30 September 2009 | LINK | Filed in , , ,
Design to Improve Life. Winners of the 2009 Index Award have been announced. On top of the list are the wind-up fetal heart rate monitor and an efficient, smokeless indoor stove. See the complete list of finalists for lots of social design product ideas.
>  3 September 2009 | LINK | Filed in ,
How a ‘Green House of the Future’ Can Impede Environmental Progress. monopoly-house.jpgRoger K. Lewis in The Washington Post: “The Wall Street Journal got into the game recently with a report on concepts by four architectural firms that the newspaper asked to imagine the ‘Green House of the Future.’… Speculating about visionary green houses is tantalizing, but much greater benefits accrue at a larger scale.… Focusing on hypothetical designs of free-standing houses can even be a distraction.… No matter how green individual homes are, suburban sprawl is intrinsically anti-green. It generates infrastructure inefficiency; car dependency and rising fossil fuel demand; carbon-emitting, time-wasting road congestion; and, despite availability of inexpensive land at ever-greater distances from jobs, escalating development, construction and public service costs.… Transforming neighborhoods, buildings and infrastructure to accommodate new functions may be the best way for architects and the real estate industry to help create a greener planet.”
>  19 May 2009 | LINK | Filed in , ,
Wind turbines inside electrical pylons. Design proposal to repurpose existing infrastructure to create clean energy.
>  19 May 2009 | LINK | Filed in ,

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