Curved plank flooring

Monday, August 30, 2010

Against the Grain

Your eyes do not deceive you—these planks are anything but straight and narrow. Contoured to capture the irregularities of wood, I find the design intriguing and appealing in a universe of sameness. The flooring is available in five species; fumed oak is featured here.

Sustainable Bowen Mountain House by CplusC Architecture

Bowen Mountain House by CplusC Architecture
The Bowen Mountain House located in New South Wales, designed by Sidney architecture practice CplusC Architecture. The structure seems to almost hover over the site and indoor and outdoor spaces merge seamlessly. Conceived as a simple weekender, this pavilion house grew into something a lot more substantial. Landscaping, a pool, pool house and sauna were added to the original brief, with spectacular results. The house has a steel frame that was welded on-site prior to being shot-blasted and finished with a two-part epoxy paint system. This is one of the longest lasting corrosion protection systems available today. – [CplusC Architecture]
Sustainable Mountain House
Sliding Door Design Bowen Mountain House
Kitchen Interior
Outdoor Pool House Design
Related posts:

America’s First Geothermal-Powered IKEA Coming to Denver

America’s First Geothermal-Powered IKEA Coming to Denver

ikea denver, geo thermal ikea, ikea denver nrel, ikea nrel 
geothermal, sustainable design, green design
More and more retail chains are embracing renewable energy in a bid to cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint. Examples include Wal-Mart installing close to 5300 solar panels at its Apple Valley distribution center in California and Green Depot making their stores LEED-certified. Now IKEA has joined the renewable retail ranks by announcing that a store near Centennial in Denver will be powered by geothermal energy. Thanks to a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Denver IKEA store will be the first IKEA store in the United States to be built with geothermal heating and cooling, saving both energy and money.
ikea denver, geo thermal ikea, ikea denver nrel, ikea nrel 
geothermal, sustainable design, green designPhoto by Pat Corkery
Douglas Wolfe, IKEA project construction manager for the store, said that he expected the site to be open in the fall of 2011. The project will see 130 holes dug 500 feet deep into the ground, where the temperature is 55 degrees all year round. The holes will be situated under the store’s parking garage, which will be below the store. When operational, the geothermal pumps will use 25 percent to 50 percent less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems and could potentially save thousands of dollars each year.
Although geothermal power has not seen the publicity that wind and solar energy receives, the tech has seen something of a resurgence in recent months with the Environmental Protection Agency stating that geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption (and corresponding emissions) by up to 72 percent compared to traditional electric resistance heating and standard air-conditioning equipment.
ikea denver, geo thermal ikea, ikea denver nrel, ikea nrel 
geothermal, sustainable design, green designPhoto by The Consumerist
Denver is known for its harsh winters, but it is hoped that the geothermal pumps will set a standard for retail stores in less temperate states. The depth of 500ft for the holes was chosen because the temperature beneath the earth’s surface is suprisingly moderate. This has been noticed by miners in the state before and is due to thermal inertia — the propensity for soil to heat up or cool down much slower than air or water. Using thermal heat has is a practice that has been around for centuries, and some archaeologists even believe that primitive man chose deeper caves as shelter due to their warmth.
The geothermal heating and cooling system “is something that globally IKEA has been considering for a number of years,” Wolfe added. “We’re very excited about working with NREL. The partnership has turned out to be very beneficial for both of us. It is providing both of us with useful information about operating such programs.” Seeing the information in real time “will allow us to determine and manage the efficiency of the geothermal system in Centennial” as well as planning for “future operations at this location as well as at other IKEA stores.
In the American West, geothermal projects are catching on and increased 46% in 2009 from the previous year. Then, about 3100 megawatts of capacity were built, with another 6400 megawatts slated for construction in the coming months.

Power: 7 Ways to Fix the Grid, Now

Power to the People: 7 Ways to Fix the Grid, Now

By Brendan I. Koerner
Photo: James Day
Filthy coal-fired power plants spew carbon into the air. A mish-mash of 9,200 generators streams vital electrons along 300,000 miles of aging, inefficient transmission lines and one untrimmed tree in the wrong place could plunge a quarter of the country into darkness. This is our electric grid. A whopping 40 percent of all the energy used in the US—be it oil, gas, wind, or solar—is converted into electrons that travel over these wires. Any attempt at energy reform must begin here.
But this keystone of our 21st-century economy has yet to advance much beyond its 19th-century roots. Considering how wasteful, unresponsive, and just plain dumb the grid is, it isn't surprising that outages—which have been increasing steadily over the past quarter century—cost us $150 billion a year. The real shock is that the damn thing works at all.
Now consider what we will ask the grid to handle in the near future: Demand for electricity is expected to increase by as much as 40 percent in the next two decades—more than twice the population growth rate. To meet that need, we will have to generate an additional 214 gigawatts, a feat that would require the construction of more than 357 large coal plants. We also want to plug in dozens, if not hundreds, of gigawatts of wind and solar power harvested from the most remote corners of the country. And we will want to recharge millions of electric vehicles every night, without fail.
That is why we must fix the grid—reinvent it to be reliable, efficient, responsive, and smart. Washington is already on the case: President Obama has called a new energy agenda "absolutely critical to our economic future," and his stimulus package directs more than $40 billion toward that goal—the largest single infusion of government capital to the energy sector in US history, more than half of which will go to grid-related projects. In the short term, this bonanza aims simply to create jobs. But in the long term, it lays the groundwork for the grid of the future. (About $400 million will go to fund ARPA-E, a sort of Darpa for energy research.) And this is just the beginning: Congress is considering additional legislation in the hope of remaking our energy infrastructure.
Private enterprise is on board as well. Just take a spin through General Electric's Smart Grid Lab in Niskayuna, New York, which will simulate an entire electric system—complete with the kind of state-of-the-art meters, software, and communication tech that will enable a smarter grid. Or check out Google's new PowerMeter, a Web app designed to give consumers instant information about their energy usage.
But technology alone won't solve this mess, because fixing the grid is not a technology problem—it's a system problem on the broadest scale. Political gridlock, broken markets, and shortsighted planning have created a slew of bottlenecks that can't be solved with a bunch of smart meters and fancy routers.
Here, we show how utilities and businesses have begun to tackle those obstacles—from installing new transmission lines to empowering consumers. If we're serious about remaking our energy infrastructure, we'll need to encourage these kinds of fixes and replace our current system of misplaced incentives. Right now, that system encourages everyone involved—customers, utilities, and private industry—to neglect the grid. We have to give those stakeholders new reasons to turn on, engage, and transform.
Go ahead, blame Edison. He's the guy who invented the business model that got us into this mess. Edison Electric Light, founded in 1880, was a vertically integrated monopoly that controlled everything from generation to distribution. (It even owned the bulbs in customers' homes.) As utilities sprouted across the country, they saw no reason to deviate from Edison's successful blueprint.
For its first century, then, the electricity industry was a simple affair. Most states anointed a single utility to provide all the power to its citizens. These utilities owned the plants that generated the electricity, the transmission lines that carried it to substations, and the wires that distributed it to customers. When more power was needed, they simply built another coal-fired plant and spliced it onto the grid. Rates had to be approved by a public-service commission, but otherwise the utilities were autonomous. (They linked their systems to neighboring grids, but mostly for backup.) Electricity was inexpensive and abundant, and the system's reliability was the envy of the world.
What it wasn't? Efficient. Since the utilities had a captive market and seemingly unlimited access to cheap fossil fuels, they had no incentive to upgrade their leaky old plants. No one complained as long as energy was seen as plentiful and harmless. Then came the fuel crisis of the 1970s, along with the rise of environmentalism. In 1978, Congress began chipping away at the utilities' dominance by forcing them to buy electricity from independent generation companies that met efficiency goals. Fourteen years later, the government went much further, ordering the utilities to open their transmission lines to all comers.
The result was utter chaos. Many utilities got out of the generation business and morphed into middlemen, shopping for the cheapest power—often from areas with low labor costs and lax environmental oversight—and transporting it hundreds, even thousands, of miles to their customers. This meant using the links between grids, which hadn't been designed to accommodate such heavy traffic. The grids of distant states thus became closely intertwined, so that an outage in one rural county could affect millions of far-flung customers.
Though power companies were demanding more from the grid, they had no incentive to upgrade it. Every penny a utility spent on grid improvement would potentially benefit plants owned by rivals. And states that exported cheap energy resisted plans for costly new transmission projects, fearing they would lead to higher in-state rates—and angry voters.
As a consequence, the grid has fallen into disrepair, with few major efforts to fix it. Today, utilities allocate just 2 percent of revenue to research. "For God's sake, we contribute less to R&D than the pet food industry does," says Jeffrey Byronof the California Energy Commission. So the grid remains hobbled by unreliable electromechanical switches and analog controllers. During the early minutes of the Northeast blackout of 2003, the Ohio utility whose damaged hardware started the cascade couldn't even monitor its own wires; employees had to phone a regional overseer and beg for updates. By that time, it was too late.
Regulators, meanwhile, have done a terrible job of mandating grid upgrades. Maybe that's because nobody is really in charge. The industry-run North American Electric Reliability Council appoints eight regional agencies to manage grid standards, but they clash with state agencies, which constantly angle for more authority. Adding to the muddle are the quasi-governmental independent system operators and the regional organizations responsible for ensuring open access to transmission lines. Meanwhile, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, created in 1977 to supervise regional and national electricity sales, has proven inept at mediating interstate disputes. This thicket of regulation and competing interests strangles any ambitious initiative. As a result, despite ever-increasing electricity demand, fewer than 700 miles of interstate transmission lines have been built since 2000.
To fix the grid, then, we don't need another layer of oversight. We need to tweak the system so that companies are rewarded—not punished—for investing in the grid. Take the case of Duke Energy. Like most utilities, the North Carolina company is not known for its environmentalism. (It has been accused of flouting the Clean Air Act, for instance.) But in 2006, Duke announced its Utility of the Future initiative. This billion-dollar program is designed to smarten up Duke's portion of the grid by deploying customer meters and network-level gizmos that facilitate speedy, two-way communication. It's exactly the sort of upgrade that will help make the grid stable enough to handle wind turbines and plug-in hybrids.
How did the giant utility come around to embracing the smart grid? Probably not out of the goodness of its corporate heart. The costs of building new generation facilities—and the tumbling prices of plug-and-play gadgets—likely made raising the grid's IQ a more efficient way to improve Duke's long-term prospects. Look at the company's recent push toward IP-based open standards for all its grid hardware. Open standards will help operators communicate with one another regardless of utility—turning the grid into an Internet-like ecosystem rather than a scattered network of proprietary islands. But there may be another reason for Duke to become an evangelist of the approach: Open standards would make it easier for the large utility to gobble up and incorporate smaller rivals, since their systems could be integrated with minimal effort.
Duke isn't the only utility to grasp the financial upside of smart-grid projects. Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy is building SmartGridCity, a $100 million effort in Boulder, Colorado, that will allow customers to monitor their electricity consumption via the Web, as well as pump wind and solar energy into the grid. If SmartGridCity is a success, Xcel hopes to persuade public utilities nationwide to invest in similar systems.
This type of investment benefits the grid tremendously and must be encouraged at every turn. According to Roger Anderson at Columbia University's Center for Computational Learning Systems, tweaking the grid's communications capabilities can increase transmission efficiency by 50 percent—no additional wires necessary.
Self-interest has a long, noble history of spurring some of America's greatest infrastructure projects. But it must often be nudged along by cleverly crafted government incentives. The transcontinental railroads, for instance, got a crucial boost from a federal land grant program. These grants, often located in barren quarters of the western US, weren't worth much at the time; the railroad companies laid track through the land in hopes of increasing property values. Energy regulators already have some experience creating similarly ingenious carrots. In the early 1980s, states began to realize that utilities wouldn't become more efficient until their revenue was no longer tied directly to the sheer amount of energy produced. So regulators in dozens of states began to implement decoupling, a policy that rewards utilities for coming in below generation targets. Suddenly, companies could profit by promoting efficiency.
With similar policies, we can push energy companies to make the grid better for everyone. For example, utilities have not been eager to incorporate renewable power from customers' rooftop solar panels or backyard wind turbines. They would be more likely to do so if they were allowed to hike rates or were given tax breaks for making the necessary accommodations.
The grid took more than a century to grow into the unwieldy beast it is now. Given the urgency of climate change, energy independence, and economic demands, we have only a fraction of that time to fix it. But the solution won't spring forth fully formed. This, the greatest engineering challenge of our era, must be solved the same way it was created—piece by piece, with utilities and consumers acting in their own interests. For too long, those interests have been misaligned. It's time for a reset.

IKEA Designs the Ultra-Efficient Kitchen of the Future

IKEA Designs the Ultra-Efficient Kitchen of the Future

ikea, kitchen, 2040, smart energy, 3d food printer, holograms, 
green design
What high-tech gizmos will we see in the kitchens of the future? IKEA may have the answers. The Swedish superstore recently drew up a concept kitchen for the year 2040, and it’s pretty wild — it features self-cleaning kitchen counters, 3D holographic displays, cabinets on rails, a “sixth-generation” iPad, remote-controlled ovens, and a host of ultra-efficient energy-saving systems.

IKEA’s kitchen of the future contains some pretty incredible theoretical tech, but we’re most excited about IKEA’s vision for kitchen-based smart energy monitoring and 3D food printers — imagine how much energy you could save by ditching trips to the grocery store.
Of course, IKEA doesn’t specialize in consumer electronics, so we don’t expect any of these products to actually come from the company. But we can dream, right?

IKEA Kitchen Of The Future Looks Pretty Much Like The Present

by Lloyd Alter
kitchen of the future image enviro
They just don't do kitchens of the future like they used to. IKEA in the UK commissioned a study by The Future Laboratory, who claim "is recognized internationally for its innovative approach to trend forecasting, consumer insight and brand strategy." They came up with three visions of the kitchen in 2040, that really don't look all that innovative. This is, I believe, the INTUITIV.
As you walk into the INTUITIV kitchen of the future, LED light projections adjust to your mood - it will know if you have a hangover via sensors that will read your brainwaves. Aromatherapy infused walls will be synced to your calendar, calming you before a big meeting or energizing you before a gym session. The fridge will have selected some breakfast options, identifying the essential vitamins for your day via sensors. When you get home, a hologrammed chef will be on hand for recipe inspiration.
Or, as the head of kitchen design for IKEA Dublin told the Irish Examiner,
"In this world of the future, the kitchen will be a thoughtful, considerate friend, steering between being the health hub of the home, a cultural and social structure cradling human connection, and a technological yet animate force making life easier, cleaner, sustainable and enjoyable."
However it might have been the ELEMENTARA, which definitely sounds the most TreeHuggeresque:
The ELEMENTARA kitchen will encourage you to grow your own food and be self-sufficient with a garden or mini allotment as a standard extension of the room. Food will be kept cool through cold larders and recycling facilities will be seamlessly incorporated into the kitchen.
ikea kitchen of the future tech
Most the Tech blogs are showing the SKARP.
This kitchen will be intelligent, predicting its inhabitants' needs with smart technology. Synchronized appliances will make everything happen at the touch of a button, communicating through iPad style devices which will act as the brain of the kitchen, making our lives easier.
But except for #2 on the left, the 3D food printer, the layout and the appliances look like the kitchen of today. Will we still be using inefficient two-door side-by-side fridges in 30 years?
Read the entire press release via ENGADGET, which perhaps was a little more realistic in its assessment of the kitchen of 2040:
These guys are certainly optimistic! Hell, we'll be happy if thirty years hence the typical kitchen isn't a leaking tent in a robot-run internment camp.
Personally, I think they used to do a better job of kitchens of the future.
Other Kitchens of the Future:
kitchen old image
1939: The Electric House of the Future
fridgidaire kitchen image
1957 Frigidaire Dream Kitchen of Tomorrow


Merrill Environmental Center: the Greenest Building Ever?

Merrill Environmental Center: the Greenest Building Ever?

by Bridgette Meinhold


chesapeake bay foundation, merrill environmental center, green 
building, sustainable architecture, leed platinum
Rainwater is collected from the Merrill Environmental Center’s roofs and is stored in three large exposed cisterns that supply about 84% of the office’s water needs. A 2 kW solar system on the roof supplies solar energy, while a geothermal heat pump provides energy to efficiently heat and cool the office. Solar passive design, natural ventilation, daylighting, tight insulation and low-e windows also play a big role in the energy-efficient design. The CBF headquarters use 59% less energy than other office buildings this size, which was determined during a year long testing and monitoring phase after the building was commissioned in 2001.
chesapeake bay foundation, merrill environmental center, green 
building, sustainable architecture, leed platinum
Environmentally-friendly materials were used throughout the building, including recycled-content materials like galvanized steel siding and roofing and reclaimed concrete, acoustic ceiling tiles, interior fabrics, and rubber flooring. The timber post and beam construction utilizes engineered scrap and new-growth FSC-certified wood and SIP panels for the roof and wall enclosures. Additionally, interior finishes included bamboo and cork flooring and reclaimed woodpaneling from pickle barrels. Many of the materials were sourced locally and there were no VOC finishes or materials used at all.
When the building was finished back in 2000, it was a shining example of what green building could be — and even today the center is still leading the way in green building strategies and performance . Employees are well accustomed to the composting toilets, the automatic ventilation controls, and their creative office layout. One of the reasons the center is so highly esteemed is due to its dedication after construction to building commissioning to ensure all the systems were operating up to their designed specs — in the ensuing year, the organization worked with NREL to monitor the buildings’ performance. The center continues to compare its performance against its operating benchmark to this day.

"Traditional" Design Meets Passive House Efficiency

"Traditional" Design Meets Passive House Efficiency In Oregon

by Lloyd Alter
rue passive house passivhaus oregon photo angled
Images via owners' website
Most Passivhaus or Passive House designs we have shown on TreeHugger have tended to be modern, but Sarah Evans and Stuart Rue tell Green Building Advisor that "We wanted our house to fit in with the surrounding neighbourhood." At Jetson Green, a commenter makes the point that "It is nice to see more traditional styling reaching higher levels of performance. Many people aren't up for the boxiness of the modern design and the trend in green homes has been so modern that many folks think that is all that can be green."
rue passive house passivhaus oregon photo exterior
But I will point out that it is hard to do good traditional design to Passive House standards, because the engineering drives so much of the design. That's why none of the blogs covering this house show the straight-on front elevation; it becomes obvious that the windows on the east side are way too small and out of proportion. Traditional design has rules, as does Passive design, and it is obvious from this photograph that the rules are different.
rue passive house passivhaus oregon photo side
One might also point out that this house is no less boxy than the modern passive house designs we have shown; it is in fact a perfect box. Every jog and corner is a problem in passive house design as it creates an opportunity for a thermal bridge. The only place that the talented architect Nathan Good could have any jogging fun was with the garages.
But once one gets past the issue of style, Stuart Rue and Sarah Evans have built a great demonstration of how Passive House design really can work to make a comfortable, healthy home that runs virtually on body heat.
rue passive house passivhaus oregon photo wall section
The walls are double-stud with almost a foot of Greenfiber cellulose insulation (made from recycled newspaper, you can still read bits of it). Windows are our favourite Serious Windows, with a U value of .105 (R 9.52, which is why even with the best windows in the country you have to be careful of how big they are and where you put them.) Serious Windows has posted a video of the builder, explaining the house.
The only mechanical heating and cooling in the house is a mini-spit heat pump with 12,000 BTU of heat and 9,000 of cooling. Some houses use that much energy for their bedroom.
rue passive house passivhaus oregon photo kitchen
Inside, they have used natural materials (wool carpets, wood floors) and minimized the use of products with VOCs. The owners have been writing a terrific and thorough blog about the process, while the builder, Bilyeu Homes, did a thorough presentation about it for the Passive House Northwest Regional Meeting in April.
Nice work, even if I have trouble calling it "Traditional."

Photovoltaic Solar Hot Water Panels Reap Multiple Benefits

Photovoltaic Solar Hot Water Panels Reap Multiple Benefits

sustainable design, green design, solar-thermal water heaters, 
combined heat and power, photovoltaic panels, renewable energy, green 
Solar panel manufacturer Solimpeks is offering a hybrid solar panel that is capable of providing both electricity and water heating from the same panel. The panels are ideal for applications where there is limited roof space available, but both solar electricity and solar hot water are desired. Even better, the combination of the two functions actually improves the efficiency of the electrical generation of the photovoltaics.
These hybrid panels address a problem most solar panels have: as photovoltaic (PV) panels get hotter, they get less efficient at generating electricity. A PV panel is about 1% less efficient for every 3.5 degrees F temperature increase. TheSolimpeks panels address this by using water to absorb excess heat and keep the panels cooler. Water cooling is far more effective than air cooling, making this a very effective combination. The heated water is then used to provide the additional benefit of hot water for the building.
Testing has shown the efficiency of electrical generation to be as high as 28% while at the same time producing 140-160 degree F water. This works out to an improvement of 20% over a similar sized electric-only PV array, and without the added hot water benefit, either.
Keeping the panels cooler has the additional benefit of extending their lifespan, keeping them in service for a longer period of time. These panels will also be able to pay back their installation cost more quickly since they are providing both electricity and hot water.


Zero Energy Casita

Zero Energy Casita in Texas Opens to the Public!

eco home, zero energy, net zero home, SIP, renewable energy, wind 
energy, wind turbine, reclaimed wood, sustainable building, green 
building, eco design, green design, ferrier homes, don ferrier, zero 
energy casita, texas, fort worth
Green building is making big strides in Texas as evidenced by this cute little zero-energy home in Fort Worth, which opens for public tours today. The Zero Energy Casita, erected by the award winning green builder, Don Ferrier, is a two bedroom, 1,051 square foot home packed with sustainable features. A residential wind turbine supplies power for the energy efficient home built from reclaimed materials. If you’re in the area, definitely take the time to check it out and see all of the green building techniques first hand.
The Zero Energy Casita, designed by Bundy, Young, Sims & Potter of Wichita Falls, Texas, is built on the shores of Eagle Mountain Lake in Fort Worth and oriented on the lot to take advantage of the sun with a large oak tree and bushes nearby to provide shade and protection from the wind. Super tight insulation from SIP construction along with a reflective roof and Weathershield ZoE5 windows create a well sealed envelope. Ductwork for the highly efficient HVAC system runs through the conditioned attic space. Reclaimed barn wood is used for the facade, floors and wood beams.
A 3.7 kW SkyStream wind generator is installed on the property to take advantage of the category 2-3 wind zone and provides enough power for the home, which is also grid tied for when the wind is not blowing for an overall net-zeroenergy demand. Other green features include rainwater catchment for irrigation, xeriscaping, a tankless water heater, on site construction debris recycling, Energy Star appliances, a programmable thermostat, dual-flush toilets, water-conserving showers & faucets, low-VOC and formaldehyde-free finishes, adhesives, and counter top materials.

Sonnenschiff: Solar City Produces 4X the Energy it Consumes

Sonnenschiff: Solar City Produces 4X the Energy it Consumes

The project started out as a vision for an entire community — the medium-density project balances size, accessibility, green space, and solar exposure. In all, 52 homes make up a neighborhood anchored to Sonnenschiff, a mixed-use residential and commercial building that emphasizes livability with a minimal footprint. Advanced technologies like phase-change materials and vacuum insulation significantly boost the thermal performance of the building’s wall system.

Rolf Disch, Solar design,passivhaus, green nieghborhood, german 
green home, green housing, green development, green mixed use, solar 
development, solar neighborhood, wood chip boiler, rainwater catchement,
 rainwater recycling
The homes are designed to the Passivhaus standard and have great access to passive solar heating and daylight. Each home features a very simple shed roof with deep overhangs that allows winter sun in while shading the building from the summer sun. The penthouses on top of the Sonnenschiff have access to rooftop gardens that make full use of the site’s solar resources. The rooftops feature rainwater recycling systems that irrigate the gardens and while supplying the toilets with greywater. The buildings also make use of wood chip boilers for heat in the winter, further decreasing their environmental footprint.
The project’s simple envelope design is brightened by a colorful and dynamic façade. Gardens and paths cross through the development as well, linking the inhabitants. Offices and stores expand the livability of the community while contributing a sense of communal purpose.

Personal Hygiene- toothbrush and razor no longer throwaway

Solar Powered Toothbrush Could Make Toothpaste Obsolete

solar powered toothbrush, solar toothbrush, Kunio Komiyama, 
shiken, Soladey-J3X, green gadgets, solar power, green design, eco 
design, sustainable design, green products
When we first saw this new gadget, we thought “Oh, a mechanical toothbrush powered by the sun.” But that isn’t what this is. Instead of using solar rays to charge itself up, the toothbrush uses them to catalyze a powerful chemical reaction that could leave your mouth way cleaner than regular old brushing does. “You see complete destruction of bacterial cells,” says Kunio Komiyama, the inventor of the device. Oh, and did we mention that no toothpaste is required? Watch out Colgate!
Mechanical University of Saskatchewan dentistry professor emeritus Dr. Kunio Komiyama and his colleague Dr. Gerry Uswak are recruiting 120 teens willing to brush with a prototype light-powered toothbrush and sit in a dentist’s chair for a few extra inspections. The manufacturer, the Shiken company of Japan, is paying the researchers to investigate whether the brush, which causes a chemical reaction in the mouth, does a better job of eliminating plaque and bacteria than a conventional toothbrush.
Komiyama’s first model, which was described 15 years ago in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, contained a titanium dioxide rod in the neck of the brush, just below the nylon bristles. It works when light shines on the wet rod, releasing electrons. Those electrons react with acid in the mouth, which helps break down plaque. No toothpaste is required.
Now Komiyama’s back with a newer model, the Soladey-J3X, which he says packs twice the chemical punch compared to the original. Protruding from the base of the brush is a solar panel, which transmits electrons to the top of the toothbrush through a lead wire. It won’t work in the dark, though – the brush needs about as much light as a solar-powered calculator would to operate.

Synthetic Diamonds Offer Key to Razor Blades That Last Years, Not Weeks

eco-friendly shaving, eco-friendly razors, eco-beauty, personal 
products, synthetic diamonds, wearable technology, GFD
Photo by dotbenjamin
Hair today, gone tomorrow? A diamond-tipped razor blade from Germany could soon supplant its disposable counterpart in the face-shaving department—and we’re not just splitting follicles. Developed by Gesellschaft für Diamantprodukte(GFD) in Ulm, the Diamaze PSD comprises a tungsten carbide blade that is coated with a film of synthetic, industrial-grade diamonds. Sharpened to produce a cutting edge of only a few nanometers, the blade is said to last 1,000 times longer than conventional steel, meaning it stays sharp for years, rather than weeks.

eco-friendly shaving, eco-friendly razors, eco-beauty, personal 
products, synthetic diamonds, wearable technology, GFD


The Ulm-based company has been manufacturing blades coated with synthetic diamonds for almost a decade, albeit for less-glamourous equipment such as medical scalpels, drill bits, and probe needles. That was before Andre Flöter, founder of GFD, had the brainwave to apply diamond’s near-invulnerability to break into the multibillion-dollar consumer razor industry.

GFD engineers use a “plasma-sharpening” process to create a cutting edge as small as 3 nanometers.

But toughness isn’t the only quality the hirsute look for in razors. To ensure a clean, close shave, GFD engineers use a “plasma-sharpening” process that involves sticking dozens of blades upright in a vacuum chamber and then pummeling them with oxygen or chlorine gas that has been excited to a plasma state. The resulting radius of curvature at the cutting edge, according to GFD, can be as small as 3 nanometers—or only a few atoms in width.
Of course, blades manufactured this way would cost a lot more than conventional ones, but Flöter insists that they’ll pay for themselves in the long term. “If one adds together the costs of disposable razors over the period of one year,” he says, “then our diamond blade could certainly be a reasonably priced alternative.”

Dwell’s Super Minimalist Prefabs Make Small Living Swell

Dwelle’s Super Minimalist Prefabs Make Small Living Swell

dwelle, dwelle.ings, prefabricated home, prefabs, prefab, prefab 
housing, green home, green architecture, green house, eco architecture, 
small living, green design, sustainable design, eco design
UK-based Dwelle has unveiled a brilliant set of prefabs that illustrate how small living is the new way to live big. With a tiny footprint (the bigger of the two is 253 sq. feet), understated modern design, and sustainable features like insulation made from 100% recycled newspapers, double glazed windows and the ability to achieve zero-carbon status, these sophisticated houses definitely are overcompensating for their small size — and we like it!

Recently, we were flabbergasted when a reader commented on Facebook that 700 square feet hardly seemed like enough room to live. True, some people might need more space, but there are plenty of perfectly livable tiny abodes – like Dwelle’s beautiful line of modern prefabs. Called the Big, the larger of the two models measures 6.7 meters by 3.5 meters (22×11.5 feet or 253 square feet) and costs around £35,000-£50,000 ($52,000-$75,000).
One thing we love about this prefab is that it can be clad in almost any material from timber to rubber, and it even has the option of being fully planted with foliage that will cover the whole structure in about 12 months. 253 sq. feet may not seem like a lot of room at all but look at how cavernous the interior feels! In a smart move Dwelle doubled the ceiling height over the main living area, giving the illusion of a much roomier space. The external timber louvres add spiffy detail to the exterior of the house while letting you control daylighting and shading
dwelle, dwelle.ings, prefabricated home, prefabs, prefab, prefab 
housing, green home, green architecture, green house, eco architecture, 
small living, green design, sustainable design, eco design
The smaller of the homes, named the Little is 4.9 meters by 2.65 meters (16×9.5 feet or 152 square feet) and costs around £20,000-£35,000 ($30,000-$52,000). Unlike its big sib, it’s meant to be more of a retreat, office or storage area than a main home, but it has almost all of the awesome features mentioned before. Just like in the Big, there is enough room for a bed that is lofted about the kitchen and main living area.
In addition to using FSC-certified timber, every has the ability to be fitted with renewable energy options that allow them to operate off-grid. The walls, floor and roof are insulated with cellulose fiber that is extracted from 100% recycled newspaper. The prefabs are heated by electric underfloor heating, and the windows are double glazed to further boost thermal performance. Plus, if you suffer from allergies or just want to live a healthier life in general, you’ll be pleased to know that all of the interior fittings and finishes are designed to improve air quality, health and general safety.


Fields of Windstalks Harvest Kinetic Energy From the Wind

Fields of Windstalks Harvest Kinetic Energy From the Wind

windstalk, wind turbines, land art, abu dhabi, masdar city, green 
design, renewable energy
Some consider wind turbines to be garish blips on serene landscapes. Not so with this Windstalk concept, which utilizes a series of 1203 kinetic energy-generating “stalks” to harness power. Designed for Abu Dhabi’s Masdar city, the project takes its inspiration from the way wheat fields blow in the wind.
The 55 meter-high stalks, which are made of carbon fiber-reinforced resin poles, contain piezeoelectric discs and electrodes that generate current. The current is stored in two chambers that act as a battery. LED lights placed on the pole tips glow or dim depending on how much wind is present. When wind is completely absent, the LEDs stay dark.
The Windstalk remains a concept, although its creators say that “It is based on a set of systems that already exist and work.” No word on how much energy a field of Windstalks could create, but we’re guessing it requires a lot of land to generate a significant amount of power.


How Many Cities Have a Ban on Plastic Bags?

How Many Cities Have a Ban on Plastic Bags?

It's probably more than you think.

plastic bag ban photo 
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
We all know how terrible plastic bags are for the environment—they choke wildlife, they don't break down in landfills (or in oceans), they add to our demand for oil, and they aren't easy to recycle, which is the biggest reason why 90 percent of plastic bags in the U.S. are not recycled.
Yet an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year—380 billion of those in the U.S.—and governments have been slow-moving at best to do anything about them.
According to Salon, a study a few years ago "found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin. Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they've been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It's equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil."
But things are finally starting to pick up. Here's a quick look at a few spots around the world that have banned plastic bags, or at least placed a tax on their use.
In California, the ban started in San Francisco in select stores; if pending legislation goes through, it could soon expand to all stores not only in the city, but in the entire state.
A similar ban exists in coastal North Carolina and was recently passed in Portland.
In 2007, Modbury became the first town to ban the plastic bag in Britain, where 13 billion plastic bags are given away every year. If customers forget to bring their own, reports the Times Online, "a range of bags made of recycled cotton with organic and fairtrade certification will be available from £1.50 to £3.95 and cheaper paper and biodegradeable cornstarch bags will cost 5p and 10p."
Other cities have followed suit, some just a few months ago, and there are efforts to make London plastic bag-free by the time the Olympics come around in 2010. According to the Daily Mail, "Londoners use 1.6billion plastic bags a year - for an average of just 20 minutes per bag."
Mexico City adopted a ban last summer—the second major city in the western hemisphere to do so.
India seems to be taking the lead in bans on plastic bags, although enforcement is sometimes questionable. Cities including Delhi, Mumbai, KarwarTirumalaVascoRajasthan all have a ban on the bag.
A ban went into effect (with little notice) in Rangoon late last year. In neighboring China, the use of plastic bags is restricted.
Plastic bags have been banned in Bangladesh since 2002, after being found to be responsible for the 1988 and 1998 floods that submerged most of the country.
The country, which has had a ban on plastic bags for years, has a reputation for being one of the cleanest nations not only on the continent, but in the world.
Sydney's Oyster Bay was the first Australian suburb to ban plastic bags. Twelve towns in Australia are now said to be plastic bag-free—an effort to cut down on the estimated 6.7 billion plastic bags used in Australia every year.
Taxed, not banned
Plenty of other places have chosen not to ban plastic bags, but to discourage them through financial means. There have been taxes on plastic bags since before 2008 in Italy, Belgium, and Ireland, where plastic bag use dropped by 94 percent within weeks of the 2002 ban. In Switzerland, Germany, and Holland, the bags come with a fee.
And, in one lonely case (that I could find) of a reversal on a ban after it was implemented, Taiwan had a ban on plastic bags for three years before it lifted it in 2006.

trash & recycled fashion

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Soda can Bra

Gisele's dress made of water for Dolce & Gabbana

lady gaga's cigarette glasses

woven video tape dress

cabbage and kale dress

dress made out of hair - recycled blond hair

american express gold card dress

money dress 

junk mail dress

beach glass dress

    This 1950's dress made out of plastic grocery bags knit by Cathy Kasdan for her thesis project at Kent State University's Textile Department. Cathy says: "The dress is all hand knit from grocery bags that were the result of actual trips to the grocery store. As soon as I told people I could use their old bags for a project they brought them in by the bag full, I received thousands! The plastic grocery bag came about in the 1950's along with futuristic optimisim about America, so I made a "typical" 1950's ensemble complete with pillbox hat and purse, not pictured."

Gary Harvey is the creator of some of these incredible dresses

bottlecap necklace

evening gown made out of M&Ms

I doubt this one is wearable but it is so bitchen- broken delft saucers and plates

laundry bags reused as a dress

this dress is made from plastic grocery bags- I think it is kind of lame but I hate those bags even more, so any use is worth looking at.

pulltab tops and can bottoms

fatigue dress

denim dress

caprisun dress

newspaper dress

trash bag evening gowns

water bottle mohawk

bicycle tires
multicolored trash

tab can bra

Jamie Kuli McIntosh made this ball gown out of the blue plastic protective covering that comes on sheets of plexiglass. The corset underneath is made of 225 mustard packets.Wow! Read all about it on her blog, Twisted Textiles.
phone cord wig
phone book dress
newspaper dress
trash bag dress

this corset is made from old chinos - the kind with the pleated fronts

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