Green Building News

Solar Panels That Don’t Look Like Solar Panels

Posted on July 22, 2016 by Scott Gibson

A technology startup has developed a way to give crystalline silicon solar panels the look of grass, tile, wood shakes or just about anything else the buyer wants.

Sistine Solar promises to "elegantly marry form and function" and speed the adoption of solar energy by making solar panels beautiful to look at.

An Easy Way to Seal Electrical Boxes

Posted on July 20, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Two architects have come up with an inexpensive way of air-sealing and insulating electrical boxes in exterior walls.

After puzzling over the best way of meeting a code requirement for sealed boxes, Bill Hicks and Lucas Schad developed a cardboard form called the Box Shell that wraps around an electrical box. The form is slightly larger than the box, creating a small gap on the sides and a space at the back that is filled with expanding foam to air-seal and insulate.

Landfills Can Make Great Building Sites

Posted on July 13, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Closed landfills, even former Superfund sites, are becoming fair game for developers who use them for projects ranging from residential and commercial developments to solar farms.

There are technical challenges, to be sure — settling terrain as buried refuse breaks down, gases given off by the site, and liquid wastes that leach out of the ground — but once engineers find ways around those problems, the landfills can offer new acreage in areas where open space is hard to find.

Recycling Rates Decline in California

Posted on July 12, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Recycling rates have dropped in California, and for the first time since 2010 are below 50%.

Plastic News reports that the statewide recycling rate fell to 47% last year, a decline of 3 percentage points from the year before. The new data from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) suggest that the state has some catching up to do if it hopes to meet a recycling goal of 75% by 2020.

‘Clean Coal’ Plant Looks More Like a Boondoggle

Posted on July 8, 2016 by Scott Gibson

There were high hopes for the Kemper Project, but after six years of construction, the breakthrough project designed to prove that coal could be used to produce clean electricity is looking more like a debacle than a success story.

The plant is still being built in De Kalb, Mississippi, a rural community on the state's eastern border, and spending has ballooned from original estimates of $2.4 billion to more than $6.4 billion. It should have been finished two years ago, but may not be fully operational until next year.

Dow Drops Its Line of Solar Shingles

Posted on July 7, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Dow Chemical is giving up on its line of building-integrated photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. (BIPV) roofing shingles.

Less than five years after entering the market, the company says it will accept orders for the Powerhouse Solar System only through July 28 and make its last shipments by August 10, MLive reported.

A Dow spokesperson said in an email that the company planned to "transition its Powerhouse platform to a licensing business model."

A New Resource for Multifamily Developers

Posted on June 29, 2016 by Scott Gibson

Reporting growing interest in Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates. multifamily projects, the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) has launched an online resource center to help developers with design, financing, and construction details.

The PHIUS Multifamily Resource Center offers information tailored for developers, architects, engineers, policy makers, and investors who are considering projects that would meet requirements of the PHIUS+ 2015 building standard.

California May Have A Lot More Water Than It Knew

Posted on June 28, 2016 by Scott Gibson

A new study has tripled the amount of fresh groundwater in California that could be used for drinking and irrigation.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Stanford University authors find evidence of groundwater aquifers as deep as 3,000 meters in eight Central Valley and coastal counties. That's good news for a state in the grips of a long-standing drought.

Sand for Construction Is Vanishing

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Scott Gibson

If someone were to compile a list of things we're not likely to run out of, ever, wouldn't sand be at or near the top? That's a logical assumption, but it turns out that we're using sand for construction at such a blinding rate that it's in short supply in some areas, and mining what's left is taking its toll on the environment.

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