A sign of the times – but one that may be welcome from the digitally connected among us – is this smart terrarium concept byÂ designerÂ Samuel Wilkinson.
Called the “Biome”, the beautiful flora terrarium is controlled exclusively (climate, water level and nutrients) via your iPad or other smartphone device. Wilkinson told MocoLogo that the idea “promotes ‘digital downtime’ by finding an alternative use for smartphones and encouraging their owners to consider a slower life. The control and nurturing of a real mini eco-system takes patience and care, contrasting with the immediacy of messaging or tweeting that is so characteristic of the smartphone generation.”
Biome was developed for a recent exhibition titled “Slow Tech – Designs for Digital Downtime”. There’s no word yet on if the Biome or its companion app will ever see the light of day as a real product. More info here.
Like something straight out of scifi, this hydroponic “Windowfarm” kit is the latest solution for urban dwellers looking to grow their own food in a limited space.
It comes to us from a crowd-sourced community of 22,000 windowfarmers around the world; utilizing an approach called R&D-I-Y, or Research & Develop It Yourself. Since 2009, this collective has been working towards perfecting a micro-hydroponic kit that can grow just about any vegetable if you’ve got direct sunlight.
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Resorts around the world continue to impress me with theirÂ commitmentÂ to sustainable practices — but Rosalie Bay Resort on the island of Dominica in theÂ CaribbeanÂ is truly a standout.
Five years in the making, the 22-acre getaway was built on principles of conservation and preservation, surrounded by an undisturbed natural setting of mountains, lush forests, and gardens. In addition to solar panels, the resort also features a Norwin Turbine 225 kW — which provides some 70% of the power used by the 28 beautiful rooms in nine cottages. With these renewables in place, Rosalie is effectively self-sustaining; an epic achievement that’s yet still rare in today’s world of “green resorts”.
“Nature should be preserved and shared,” said Dr. Ken Watson, general manager. “Rosalie Bay Resort was designed to be environmentally sustainable while showcasing one of the most beautiful natural settings in the Caribbean. Many resorts claim to be green, but we’ve made a legitimate commitment with the wind turbine being the centerpiece of our pledge.”
Don’t take my word for it, hit the official site to check out the beauty of Rosalie. Rates start at a very reasonable $185/night and include continental breakfast, coffee & tea.
Cleveland’s City Council recently passed a $2.5 million measure to bring RFID-equipped recycling bins to 25,000 homes over the course of the next year. Hey, nothing like encouraging a little green behavior. But this one carries a catch:
The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection. If a chip show a recyclable cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables.
Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine, according to Waste Collection Commissioner Ronnie Owens.
Yikes. I mean, everyone should be recycling, but is imposing a sort of “Big Brother” technology necessary? I can see this as being yet another controversial (and wildly blown-out-of-proportion) example of “environmental liberalism” interfering in the lives of people. Why not just fine someone if they don’t have a recycling bin out and full next to their garbage? And do we really need trash supervisors spending time looking for recyclables in our garbage?
I’m firmly on the side of wanting more composting and recycling in this country, but something like this just seems a bit imposing. There’s got to be a better way to convince people to recycle.
We’ve seen mega-turbines before — but never one with an output of 10MW, and certainly not one that floats!
When completed, the world’s largest turbine will stand at roughly 533 feet with a rotor diameter of 475 feet. At three times more powerful than current turbines, it will be able to power over 2,000 homes. From Treehugger,
It will be built by the Norwegian company Sway and tested first on land in Oeygarden, southwestern Norway. Unlike most offshore wind projects where turbines rest on the seafloor, Sway turbines float. This means further offshore development where winds are stronger and more consistent.
The floating tower is a pole filled with ballast beneath the water creating low center of gravity. Anchored to the seabed with a single pipe and a suction anchor, it can tilt 5-8Â°, and turn around with the wind.
It’s expected that the prototype will cost close to $70 million and be completed sometime in 2011.
We’ve seen vertical gardens on the side of buildings before — but never one this, um, HUGE.
Architects and federal officials are planning a series of 250-foot-tall trellises designed to shade the west side of the remodeled Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building. The added greenery is just part of a $135 million project that will also feature elevators that generate electricity on the way down, solar arrays on the roof, smart lighting systems that adjust to the daylight available, among other advances. From the article,
Eggleston’s firm, SERA Architects, is working on some questions that weekend gardeners never have to figure out: what plants will grow readily at more than 200 feet in the air and how to water, fertilize, weed and prune at that height. The pruning might be done in much the same way windows are washed, he said, with workers hoisted and lowered on platforms. Rainwater collected on the roof, supplemented by city water, will be piped for irrigating the green wall, he said.
Construction is expected to take 30 to 40 months.
This will truly be a stunning addition to the Portland cityscape if constructed as planned — and we’re thrilled to see other buildings adopt vertical gardens, as well as sustainable features. Check out the full article for more!
Photo credit: Scott Baumberge
A lot of people are comparing this beautiful treehouse in Portland, Oregon to a hobbit dwelling. Personally, add a little black paint and it looks like something Darth Vader would retreat to when things get a little to hectic on the Death Star. It also looks like it would double as a swanky TIE fighter. From the architect,
Located on a flag lot, a steep sloping grade provided the opportunity to bring the main level of the house into the tree canopy to evoke the feeling of being in a tree house. A lover of music, the client wanted a house that not only became part of the natural landscape but also addressed the flow of music. This house evades the mechanics of the camera; it is difficult to capture the way the interior space flows seamlessly through to the exterior. One must actually stroll through the house to grasp its complexities and its connection to the exterior. One example is a natural wood ceiling, floating on curved laminated wood beams, passing through a generous glass wall which wraps around the main living room.
Check out some more pics here.
Wilkinson House via Boing Boing
We love raucous festivals like Burning Man and music jamborees like Bonaroo, but we’ve never heard of one that combines the spirit of these events with the mission to actually accomplish something. Like building a build a micro wind turbine farm.
Such is the idea behind “Villages in the Sky: DIY World Change” — a a family-friendly renewable energy and sustainability celebration located in the Ozarks and scheduled for June 2010. Unlike gatherings that strive to leave things the way they were before anyone arrived, Villages in the Sky is looking to take advantage of crowd sourcing to create a better place than existed before. Participants will help build a micro wind turbine farm and bio-mass systems as well as giant play structures (zip lines, tree houses, ropes courses, etc). The entire event is internally cash free event which promotes a volunteer ethic and strangers working cooperatively for a shared goal. In fact, the main goal is to leave behind the beginnings of a locally self sufficient eco-village. Perhaps even one inspired by the Ewoks. From the website,
“Villages in the Sky is about more than wind mills and climate change. It is a full celebration of the element of air. Everything from paper airplane contests, to bubble blowing, to frisbees, to zip lines, to tree house villages complete with connecting bridges are being considered and encouraged.”
The VIS site is a 40 acre portion of the over 1000 acres owned by host East Wind Community in the Ozark mountains of south western Missouri. In other words, bring your GPS.
Right now, the event organizers are looking for help with funding and currently are in the hunt a $5K grant over at Brighter Planet. You can check out more details on the proposed plans — and help vote them through here!
2010 will most likely go down as the year electric cars were (once again) made available to the public through Big Auto. Both Nissan and Chevy have plans to release the Leaf and Volt respectively — and both focus on getting energy from being plugged in. (Although the Volt can charge its battery utilizing its small “range-extender engine”, but then what’s the point of having an electric car?)
If you’ve got the deep pockets for one, the most conventional way of charging the vehicle will be to simply plug it into an ordinary wall socket. Charging a Nissan Leaf would take up to 16 hours, and charging a Volt would take eight. If you’re in a hurry, however, the best thing to have on-hand in the garage is a “quick charger” — which pushes a much more considerable amount of juice to your car. Instead of 8 hours, you can now have a fully charged Volt in under 2.5 hours.
Unfortunately, having a quick charger installed in your garage is not something just anyone can do. From CNN Money,
“The equipment has to be fully approved, installed by a competent professional, and in most cases, a city or state inspector will have to approve it all.”
In some instances, users had to jump through hoops that amounted to a month or more of waiting for the right installer/inspector to visit their home. “But the broader market of car buyers are likely to be turned off by any additional hassles”, said Charlie Vogelheim, executive editor of Intellichoice.com to CNN. “They all become detriments to making the sale,” he said. “That’s the type of thing that slows it down going into the mainstream.”
Companies like Nissan and Chevy are attempting to alleviate such potential issues by working with city and state governments now — so that later in 2010, when new customers attempt to order quick chargers and get them inspected, they’re not met with blank stares. As Sebastian Blanco, editor of Autobloggreen added, “Little setbacks will not be enough to hold back the tide of people who really want these cars.”
The number of Americans dropping meat is growing, albeit at a small rate. According to an online poll conducted by The Vegetarian Resource Group, three percent of U.S. adults indicated they never eat meat, poultry and fish/seafood. About one-third to one-fourth of those vegetarians (one percent of the U.S. adult population) also never eat dairy, eggs and honey, and are classified as vegan. Additionally, eight percent of the respondents say they never eat red meat.
These numbers are up from a 2006 poll in which 2.3 percent of Americans classified themselves as vegetarians, with 6.7% not eating red meat.
In addition to the TVR poll, a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association found that meatless/vegetarian dishes will continue to grow in 2010. Of the 1,854 American Culinary Federation chefs surveyed on trends in the industry, meatless/vegetarian entrees came in number 11 in the â€śMain Dishes/Center of the Plateâ€ť category, and vegan entrees ranked 13, with 52% and 48% respectively.
The big winner? Locally Grown Produced ranked number 1 in Top 20 Trends.
via The Vegetarian Resource Group