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.
My graduate school advisor, Charles Hall, is a very intelligent man, though he frequently defers to his doctoral advisor’s talent and knowledge. Howard Odum explained the first and second laws of thermodynamics concisely and in a manner easy to understand:
The quantity of energy within a system is maintained (first law). However, the quality of that energy degrades over time (second law).
Entropy is defined as
a function of thermodynamic variables, as temperature, pressure, or composition, that is a measure of the energy that is not available for work during a thermodynamic process. A closed system evolves toward a state of maximum entropy.
Lutz was asked if that means he would favor higher gasoline taxes, as in Europe where taxes drive fuel to more than $5 a gallon. He said he couldn’t speak for GM, but he said he saw a lot of value in a steady tax rise to much higher levels.
“You either continue with inexpensive motor fuels and have to find other ways to incent the customer to buy hybrids and electric vehicles, such as the government credits,” he said. “Or the other alternative is a gradual increase in the federal fuel tax of 25 cents a year, which in my estimation would have the benefit of giving automobile companies a planning base, and giving families that own vehicles a planning base.”
Lutz continued, noting that if families knew that the price of gasoline were going to steadily increase over the next few years, they would change their buying habits and lean towards more fuel efficient vehicles.
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,
Environmentally-conscious PC owners beware! There’s a fairly recent spyware virus out there that takes advantage of the green movement to promote an entirely different agenda.
Called “Eco Antivirus”, the app poses as green security software — offering to help conserve the energy your computer consumes while searching for malicious bugs. Unfortunately, the app is a malicious program itself that “bombards the screen with a series of fake security warnings, deceiving scans and aggressive marketing designed to persuade the user to visit the Eco AntiVirus website to purchase the malicious software.”
While those infected have reported it being something of a nightmare to remove the spyware, there are now legit apps to handle this wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Lesson here? Don’t download suspicious software without first doing a bit of googling to pull back the curtain on any BS green claims. Even software can greenwash.
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.