Using the same technology that allows hybrid cars to recycle braking energy, Max Donelan invented a gadget that produces power from the human knee – capable of producing 2.5 watts of electricity per leg. The unit is not too practical at the moment, but the technology and potential is sound. Currently the knee power generator weighs in at 3.5 lbs and it looks very awkward to have strapped on. Although 2.5 watts doesn’t seem like too much it is enough to power 5 mobile phones free of charge or resource.
The thought of generating my own power through my own caloric fuel output is intriguing. With the rising costs of energy, creative ways of generating power cheaply is exactly what we need. It would appear that the days of inexpensive power are over so a little energy scavenging coupled with energy efficiency is as good a plan as any. Hardship drives innovation and the growing global energy crisis is spawning brilliant ideas into usable products and systems.
In short, it all begins with education from the bottom up, and regarding everyone involved in a building process. First of all, consumer awareness on green building is murky for the majority. For example, I have several prospective clients and or builders ask me each week what green building means to me. Many assume that being green means the use of cfl lights and solar panels. Or, some think it is low-flow water and reduced waste of some form or another. In a sense, they are right I tell them, those are all green aspects but I define our green buildings by far more than that.
The importance of all this is simple really, if a consumer wants some green elements in their building envelope then that is an improvement and I support them no matter how green they wish to be. For the sake of argument, in regard to what I might briefly classify as “green without comprimise” or “green from the groud up,” I would say that education is severely lacking in the system. In fact the one system that provides some guidance that many are becoming slightly familiar with is LEED, but beyond that it is an open gate for a flood of green bits and pieces and all are quick to use it in reference to their projects.
If you are one of those people out there who thinks a green car means you have to own a hybrid or a natural gas vehicle, think again. There are ways to essentially “green” your car without meeting the above criteria. Basically, it matters not what type of car you have: the way you operate the vehicle can save money, fuel and the environment.
Any car that is not in proper condition will burn more fuel and release more pollution into the atmosphere. Below you will find a list of simple ways to green your automobile.
1- Tire Pressure: Surprisingly, as much as 15 percent of the energy required to push your vehicle down the road is utilized in overcoming rolling resistance. This is according to the established laws of physics specifically related to friction. The most effective way to maximize fuel economy is to assure that your tires are inflated to the recommended pressures that can be found on most vehicles’ tire placard commonly placed on door jams. It is wise to check your tire pressure whenever you fill your gas tank. A slight drop in pressure by just a few pounds per square inch (psi) will result in a loss in fuel mileage. Also, when replacing your tires consider one of the new lower-rolling resistance models offered by many tire manufacturers now.
2- Maintenance: It is wise to follow the automakers maintenance schedule outlined in the vehicle owner’s manual. These recommendations are generally there for a sound reason, to keep the car in top notch condition. From tune-ups to regular oil and fluid changes and scheduled maintenance programs at x number of miles per your car dealers or manufacturers recommendation are all going to provide you with a greener result.
3- Go Easy: One often overlooked green method for more efficient driving is proper use of your speedometer and tachometer. The tachometer measures just how fast your engine is turning in revolutions per minute, hence rpm. By keeping a watchful eye on your tach and staying below 3,000 rpm as you speed up, you’ll save gas and extend the life of your car. Reduced braking also wastes gas so be aware enough to see what’s coming and coast along whenever possible and brake slowly, progressively.
In June of 2006 Paylocity moved it’s business into a new office and the employees were surprised to find themselves surrounded by green. The carpets and work stations are composed of recycled materials including energy efficient lighting and water heating at point of source.
Paylocity is a payroll and HR solutions provider and has been running strong for the past ten years. The green movement was spearheaded by the founder and CEO of the company Steve Sarowitz. Aside from making the move toward green surroundings Steve had a notion to further this trend toward going green. Prior to the move he e-mailed his 180 employees about forming a “green team” to explore how the company could further explore its mission to make green something more than just a nip and tuck here and there.
RecycleBank, founded by Ron Gonen is setting the standard for doing good while profiting at green business. In fact their catchy slogan on the navy blue recycle containers aptly states, “preserving our environment one home at a time.” In this case, the statement is certainly true. The idea is so simple and yet so solid that Gonen said that his first meeting with a potential customer was not a hard sell.
One might assume that RecycleBank is just another recycling program but the catch and heart of the company is consumer rewards. This is how it works: RecycleBank provides homes with large recycling receptacles not unlike your standard garbage can on wheels. Each container is equipped with a radio frequency identification chip that can be read by the trucks picking them up. Information can be communicated from these chips about how much each house has recycled. This information is used by RecycleBank to convert these statistics into reward points for the homeowner. These points can then be redeemed at hundreds of stores, including Whole Foods and Starbucks to name a couple. Customers can even track their reward points and environmental footprint through the website at www.recyclebank.com
Gonen, aformer consultant wanted to prove that being socially responsible could be a profitable endeavor. And so it is that Gonen launched his company in 2004 on the belief that giving people the motivation to recycle along with the proper tools would change their wasteful behavior. It turns out he was right on that notion. His customers’ recycling has saved more than 227,000 trees and 15 million gallons of oil and has diverted more than 19,500 tons of material from the waste stream and redeemed more than 3 million reward points. The company is preparing to expand across the nation this year thanks to the bright idea and success of this smart and eco-friendly company.
Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood certification guarantees that the hardwoods provided were harvested responsibly. Accordingly, the certified producers of these hardwoods are also making moves to maximize the habitat and watershed preservation. Synthetic pesticides are also slated to be reduced, however, not eliminated altogether.
For example, one fine and legendary use for this SmartWood has been implemented by Les Paul. He has designed a mahogany and muirapiranga electric guitar using only certified SmartWood. And by the way Les Paul can still rip it at the ripe old age of 92. Not half bad…
The Alliance has a mission, and that is, simply put, to encourage a stronger on-the-ground forestry practice that rewards businesses, governments and communities for meeting the required standards for sustainability. Local community support and biodiversity practices are a critical aspect to the program. Since the founding in 1989, the SmartWood council has certified some 2,300 operations and 43,000,000 million hectares in over 60 countries up to the code of FSC standards.
2200 Japanese home owners draw their power and heat their hot water from hydrogen fuel cells. The technology, which extracts energy from the chemical reaction when hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water, is more commonly found as an application for automobiles rather than homes.
Developers claim that fuel cells cause one-third less of the pollution that causes global warming than conventional electricity generation does. The flat grey fuel cell is about the size of a suitcase and is generally positioned next to the hot water heater tank, also on the outside of these homes. In the process of producing electricity, the fuel cell gives off enough warmth to heat water for the home.
The oxygen that the fuel cell uses comes from the air and the hydrogen is extracted from natural gas by a device called a reformer, it is found in the same box as the fuel cell. A byproduct of that process is poisonous carbon monoxide which is handled via another process. Another machine in the gray box adds oxygen to the carbon monoxide to create carbon dioxide, which, although it possibly contributes to global warming, it is not poisonous.
I was introduced to the 3form company at a local green gathering recently. The company produces materials for the architectural and design community and is working nicely in a green direction. I really liked the materials they used and the massive variety of applications for them. Their unique products cast a very modern and stunning image.
One of my favorites worth highlighting is “100 PERCENT” – it is low environmental impact material composed of recycled HDPE. In other words, it’s waste transformed into a very sexy and stylish design. It truly is beautiful and unique, but aside from the aesthetics, it’s tough, green, and clean.
Richard Branson, the business man that makes headlines seemingly every week. This time, it is for a green cause, he made history by becoming the first commercial airliner owner to fuel a flight with a partial load of biofuels.
The debatable point is this, it took the oil of 150,000 coconuts and some babassu palm oil to power only 20% of one of four fat tanks on one of his 747 Virgin Atlantic airliners. The headlined trip launched at Heathrow airport and touched down at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, making the mark on what some would claim could be a revolution in environmentally responsible aviation.
Those of you with big wqallets and a strong desire to go green with furnishings in your home or office should not overlook Vivavi.com. It is a site that offers a large variety of modern green furnishings from some of the industry’s top designers and manufacturers. I myself simply had a great time shopping through the site and viewing the unique and inspiring green pieces they offer. From vine-wrapped lounge chairs to bamboo dining sets and LED lighting, Vivavi offers it all in a convienent and user friendly online hub.
The site is very simple and yet sophisticated. The founder, Josh Dorfman, created a user firendly and versatile site that offers more than meets the eye. Not only is it a portal for green funishings but it also offers access to home design, architects, green builders, realtors and remodelers. Secondly, it even connects users to geen apartments, condos and residential communities. This site is worth checking out for the green enthusiast.
One problem consumer’s face when wanting to use biofuels is building an in-house processor for creating biodiesel to further shave costs. This is no small feat so Renewal Biodiesel has created a second generation do-it-yourself system that makes it a snap. The system is aptly coined the FuelMeister II. The biggest benefit to this system is cost savings, producing your own biodiesel fuel can bank you as little as .70 cents a gallon!!
The FuelMeister II is faster, safer, and easier to operate than its older sibling. The FuelMeister creates biodiesel out of used cooking oil, methanol, lye, electricity and tap water. With these ingredients properly blended the FuelMeister can kick out 80 gallons of clean-burning fuel every day. This fuel can be used to power your vehicle or even your home or both.
Michael Rhodes was one of the masterminds behind solid rocket fuel over 40 years ago. Today he is throwing his chemical genius into the concrete arena. Welcome Hycrete Admixture, a blend of metallic ions and calcium moleculesthat react to seal the capillaries in concrete.
The result is a waterproof concrete through and through. Hycrete eliminates the need for external membranes, coatings, and sheeting treatments, which means that old concrete does not need to lay to rest in a landfill, it can be crushed and recycled. Hycrete concrete provides a valuable and sustainable approach to corrosion protection and waterproofing through a advanced yet simple evolution in performance concrete construction.
The introduction of LED light bulbs into the market has been hindered due to several factors. Namely: lumens (brightness) color (led produce blue radiance vs. white) market promotion and affordability. Although LED bulbs for residential and commercial applications are not quite where they need to be, they are starting to scratch their way into the market this year with more force than ever before.
Technology has brought the bulbs to a point where they are bright enough to compete with standard bulbs if not better. Also, the color that has plagued the bulbs for some time, being the hazy soft blue tones that are common has been dealt with as well, be it by a diffuser or through bulb technology itself.
Nearly half the water used in the home is flushed down the toilet. There are many solutions for under sink gray water units that help save and recycle usable water. A strong contender among the competition is the AQUS gray water system which efficiently captures the water from the sink and transfers it to the flusher. This handy unit can save up to 7 gallons of water per person each day, that figure adds up real quick.
The trick? The sink water first runs through a simplified dispenser or filter of sorts that houses bromine and chlorine tablets. These tablets kill the bacteria from the polluted sink water. A 5.5 gallon holding tank lies beneath your vanity and is attached to the dispenser. A modified p-trap directs the water from the sink through the dispenser and into the tank.
A fast favorite among green builders is the super durable HardiePlank siding. Not unlike the HardieBacker many of us are familiar with using when laying down tile. Composed of wood pulp, cement, sand and water, the end product will not rot, crack or split. The green benefits are many including the recycled components and the relative low embodied energy for manufacturing.
Compared to other siding options this product stands out as the main contender for a sound and sturdy green building material. It is also versatile; it can be faced to resemble that of stucco wood clapboards or cedar shingles. HardiePlank can also be pre-painted at the factory for those ready to install and walk away. In a world where wood siding needs constant maintenance and vinyl siding is toxic and flammable HardiePlank is the easy choice. The big kicker is it comes with a 50-year warranty. When green builders weigh the costs with the reward, HardiePlank seems to tip the scale in its favor. What potential homeowner is going to complain about an eco-friendly, low-maintenance, durable , and good-looking buidling material that lasts and lasts?? Just another smart way to provide sonsumers with something better while profiting at the same time.