friday morning links

I found two interesting articles yesterday that I'll share this morning.

The US Department of Energy is holding a contest to create an LED alternative to a 60 watt lightbulb. Philips is the first company to be submitting an idea. The contest states that the lamp cannot use more than 10 watts, the light color must be like traditional bulbs today and the bulbs must last 25,000 hours. The New York Times has a longer write-up about it.

Houston is the oil capital of America, but with some new developments they may be heading toward being the renewable energy capital as well. A proposal is very close to being approved to allow NRG Energy to build a plant in the area and the city would purchase its solar power from it, providing about 1.5 percent of the city government's power needs. Houston is not terribly far from here, so it will be interesting to follow their rise to becoming a renewable energy hub, if everything works out. It could also be a part of Caitlin's future life!

party pictures

So last Thursday evening UL's BeauSoleil team held a bon voyage party to celebrate the completion of their Solar Decathlon entry and imminent departure for DC. I made it out to get a few pictures and see the house for myself.

Probably my favorite part of the house are those slats to the left of the window. The inside area with the window is the kitchen and those slats house an herb garden. Need basil? It's right outside the door in your cute little vertical garden.
The house is designed to embrace the outdoors and create essentially an indoor/outdoor living space.
This side of the roof is covered with solar panels, along with that retractable door cover. The shutters are also a great feature. They are beautiful but functional. They slide to cover the windows in case of bad weather while still adding an accent to the exterior.
And a large solar water heater.
Other features I didn't get great pictures of are the large deck spaces on the front and back of the house. The house itself is 800 square feet, in accordance with Solar Decathlon rules. The interior featured a kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom and laundry protrusion (for lack of better word - see right side of second picture.) The inside was very contemporary, yet still warm. Many well-known local artists donated pieces to the house, which along with many touches of UL red, make the house unique and cultural.
All in all, I think the house is great, and I would definitely live in a version of it, larger than 800 square feet, of course.
The team embarks for Washington DC on September 28, so good luck to everyone making the trip!

park(ing) day 2009

Today is the fifth National PARK(ing) Day, where parking spots across the country are turned into mini green spaces.

Check out the website, which features a comprehensive Flickr slideshow of this year's parks.

I should start brainstorming for next year!

where does it end up?

The New York Times has an interesting article today about a woman in Seattle who invited researchers from MIT to tag her trash with electronic devices in order to study exactly where her trash and recyclables end up.

One purpose of the project, said Carlo Ratti, director of the lab, is to give people a concrete sense of their impact on the environment in a way that might lead them to change their habits.

“If you see where a plastic bottle ends up, a few miles down the road in a dump, you may want to get tap water or some other container for the water,” Mr. Ratti said.

This type of project is being done in other places around the country as well. For the next three months, MIT is tracking 3,000 pieces of garbage from the Seattle area to see where it ends up and if recyclables are actually being recycled.

“If I found out that it wasn’t going where I think it does, if it is less recycled than I hoped,” Landsberg said she “might think about buying less of it or doing without.”

Great read.

bon voyage

Tonight is the big night for UL's Solar Decathlon team. They're holding a bon voyage party for the BeauSoleil house before it heads off to competition in Washington DC. I've written about the house before and I'm interested to see how the team has brought together all sorts of eco-friendly and sustainable elements to create a beautiful home.

The party has been gathering lots of local press and I
plan to make it out tonight to take a few pictures of the house for myself. If you are in the area, the festivities begin at 6:30 and the christening is at 7. The lovely Cajun band BeauSoleil will also be performing.


green roofs

The Huffington Post has a piece and photo slideshow today on some of the best green roofs around the world. I particularly love how the roofs become a part of the architecture and design of these buildings to create a real statement.

My boss had mentioned one time she was interested in a green roof for our building, but that would take more than laying down grass as it leaks any time it rains. I'm not sure how complicated or costly it is to implement a green roof, nor how much it saves on electricity, but it would be interesting to get some numbers.
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