A team of mayors and nonprofit foundations said Wednesday that they’ll spend enough retrofitting major U.S. cities to save more than $1 billion per year in energy costs. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropy, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation pledged $3 million each year for three years to provide technical advisers for 10 cities across the country: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City. Read More
Big Ass Fans are, as their name suggests, a producer of very large fans. They’re used everywhere from dairy barns to art galleries to outdoor public installations like Wendy, HWKN’s star-shaped pavilion for MoMA PS1’s summer Warm Up series. They also make residential models, like Haiku, the latest product in their line up. Once you get over the eye roll-inducing slogan—Haiku: Poetry in Motion—it’s a really incredible product. According to Energy Star it’s the world’s most efficient residential ceiling fan, and even exceeds their efficiency requirements by 450 to 750 percent. Whereas most fans use 90 to 100 watts, the Haiku uses just two to 30 watts, costing an average of $5 per year.
When construction was completed on the Empire State Building (ESB) in 1931 it cost $25.6 million—that’s just $9.20 per square foot. You can’t even build a single floor for that nowadays, much less a 1,454-foot tall skyscraper (adjusting for inflation, the ESB would cost $352 million today). Though the building hosts events and tour groups, most of us only see it from the outside and don’t realize that the reason it’s known as the World’s Most Famous Office Building is because tenants occupy the vast majority of its 102 floors. And like any other office building, lighting consumes the majority of its electrical costs—a whopping 39 percent.
In order to meet their stringent return-on-investment requirements, Anthony Malkin, President of Malkin Holdings, which owns the ESB, and Jones Lang LaSalle, an energy and sustainability consultancy, commissioned Lutron to supply pre-built tenant spaces throughout the building with sustainable lighting control solutions as part of the Clinton Climate Initiative Building Retrofit program aimed at improving efficiency and financial performance. The building-wide retrofit is projected to provide a total lighting energy savings of up to 65 percent and a reduced installed payback period of just 2.75 years. Overall, the Lutron system will reduce energy use by 38 percent and energy bills by $4.4 million per year. Moreover, the upgrade will prevent an estimated 105,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the next 15 years.
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A motorized green wall that reads the weather and adjusts automatically
Two years ago six students and three faculty from Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design spent three weeks at SOM‘s Chicago office applying industrial fabrication solutions to the problem of high density housing for Southworks, a housing development that’s currently being planned for a large vacant section south of the city. The result was LumenHAUS, an aggressively energy efficient home that won the international Solar Decathlon Competition that June for sustainable solutions to high density construction. LumenHAUS is not only net zero, it actually creates more energy than it uses by implementing, among other innovations, a modular system that autonomously responds to external weather information and internal environmental conditions to optimize energy use. This Fall Virginia Tech’s Center for Design Research will begin construction on a full scale prototype of six housing modules, including a working prototype of Hanging Garden, a dynamic plant wall that reads the weather and responds by sliding along the walls and windows to either block or allow sunlight into the living unit.
New York vs. Paris. It seems that the Big Apple and The City of Lights are forever battling over design, architecture, fashion, and film. A Parisian graphic designer decided to take matters into his own hands, creating a website to display his witty color-block graphics that juxtapose these iconic cities. Topics are eclectic, ranging from landmarks (the Empire Sate vs. the Eiffel Tower), to architecture (5th Avenue Apple Store vs. Musée du Louvre), to food (cupcakes vs. macarons), to even car parking styles (parking lot towers vs. double parked). More at the NY Times T Magazine.
Oil from plastic. Energy company Vadxx has invented reactors that can transform plastic scraps that can’t be recycled into crude oil with the lowest sulfur content in the world, says Good Magazine. The first reactors are slated for a recycling plant in Akron, Ohio. However, this begs this question: will the amount of crude oil created offset the amount of energy needed for the conversion process?
Basket lights. A New Zealand designer, David Trubridge, has infused his lighting with the spiritual–looking to a Maori creation myth for design inspiration, writes Contemporist. The Maori believed gods gave humans three baskets of knowledge. Trubiridge designed three corresponding teardrop ceiling “baskets”: the bamboo light represents knowledge of the natural world, the polycarbonate light symbolizes knowledge of the spiritual world, and the aluminum basket signifies knowledge of the rational world.
As automakers vie to release the next generation of plug-in electric cars, many eco-conscious drivers have wondered about the lack of charging infrastructure in dense urban environments. Unlike in, say, London, where charging points are being planned within one mile of every citizen by 2015, New Yorkers have heard little about curbside electric pumps. Well, if you’re looking for a place to plug in your GM Volt, one company’s vision of the future has arrived. Read More