Tag Archives: Green

City of Phoenix Offers Free Sustainable Home Design Plans



Home Design Plans CompetitionRooted firmly in mid-century modern design and with a nod to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian houses, the City of Phoenix and the American Institute of Architects ran a “Sustainable Home Design Competition for a ‘near net-zero energy’ single family home” in 2018.

The design was to be for a house in climate zone 2, which indicates a need primarily for cooling, and was part of the City’s goal to become a carbon-neutral and zero-waste city. As a step towards achieving these goals, the City of Phoenix wanted to encourage the construction of ultra-low energy use homes.

The prize was US$100,000 and the winning design, Home NZ, came from Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects, in partnership with SCL Consulting, Henderson Engineers and Desert Skies Energy Services.

The building is 2,185 square feet and sits on 60′ by 110′ lot. Inside there are three bedrooms, family and living rooms, kitchen, laundry, bathroom and garage for a build cost around US$350,000. As built, it has a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index of 33 but with the addition of renewable energy sources (solar), this falls to 0. For comparison, a standard new home has a HERS rating of around 100.

Home NZ Side View

By using heat reflective glazing, passive cooling and natural convection, plus low energy lighting and smart systems, the Home NZ can expect to save around $2,000 in comparison to a similar standard property. Of course, it’s not just about saving money, it’s about saving the planet…

These competitions are often great exemplars of technology, but in this case, it’s an affordable family home that can be built today. And even better, the City of Phoenix has made the plans available for free. All you have to do is go here, sign the disclaimer, and download 88 MB of pdf.

And if you are ever in the Phoenix area, I’d recommend a trip to Taliesin West in neighbouring Scottsdale to learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright.


Sengled Smart Lights Honored at CES



Sengled has a history of winning awards at CES and this year is no exception with two Honorees in the ‘Best of Innovation’ and ‘Eco-design and Sustainable Technologies’ categories. The former was won by the Sengled Pulse Link, which is an interesting way of improving television audio with the need for wires or expensive  AV amplifiers.

By way of explanation, the Sengled Pulse is a Bluetooth-controlled LED lamp with a built-in speaker, so music can be streamed from a mobile phone or tablet to the Pulse. I’ve reviewed some of these lights and I’m not going to pretend that they’re hi-fi quality audio and just leave it at that. The Pulse Link adds a transmitter into the mix so the (rear surround) audio output from the TV is input to the Pulse Link, which then transmits to a pair of Sengled Pulse lamps. The Pulse lamps can be positioned conveniently near the TV viewer, bringing the soundtrack closer. The Pulse Link Starter Kit is US$199.

The second Honoree is the Sengled Element, which simplistically, is a hub-controlled LED smart bulb. What makes the Element a little bit different is a focus on green credentials and a promise by Sengled to plant a tree for every bulb, making the Element CO2 neutral. The complementary smartphone app shows the energy savings compared with incandescent lighting so owners can see how they’re saving the planet. Price for the Element Classic hasn’t been set, but the Element Plus Kit is $59.99 for hub and bulb. Bulbs are $17.99. The Element Plus bulbs (shown) have white colour-temperature tuning and dimmer switch compatibility.

And purely because I like the idea, I going to mention the Sengled Everbright. This is an LED lamp with a built-in battery providing over 3 hours of lighting in the event of a power cut. Impressively, the lights can tell the difference between normal on/off switching and a power failure. Very clever and perfect if you live with a less-than-stable electricity supply. US$19.99.

Sengled are at CES 2017 at the Sands Expo, Level 2 Hall A #41336.


Ohyo Folds Bag to Size at Gadget Show Live



Ohyo_400x400Several areas of the UK now charge for plastic grocery bags as a green tax and reusable shopping bags have become very popular. Mind you, carrying round a scrunched up bunch of old bags is never a good fashion statement. Fortunately Ohyo has designed a good-looking accessory which morphs from a pouch to a messenger bag before completely opening up as a shopping bag. Participating in the British Inventors’ Project at Gadget Show Live, I chat with Guy from Ohyo about his thing for folding.

Ohyo Folding Bags

Guy and Ohyo has worked with designer Felix Conran, the grandson of Sir Terence Conran, to create a flexible bag that changes shape to meet changing needs. The bag can be arranged into four different configurations, a tablet bag, messenger bag, a back-pack and a grocery bag. Available in four colours, the RRP is GB£79, but Ohyo are currently running a Kickstarter campaign where you can get in at £59. There’s just two days to go, so get in quick.

Ohyo have a track record in folding things – Guy’s previous invention was a collapsible bottle, which sold over 700,000 units and might be familiar to parents in Britain as it’s been previously sold in Marks and Spencer’s and Boots.


Biomethane Bus sets new Land Speed Record



Reading Buses logoWe don’t usually think of buses as being speedy things. And usually, we don’t actually want them to be going too fast. But a new type of bus, dubbed “Bus Hound” in England, has set a new land speed record for vehicles of its type. What’s even more surprising about this is that the bus is powered by biomethane made from cow manure.

While on a test track, Bus Hound reached a top speed of 76.785 miles per hour, earning it the accolade of fastest bus on Earth. Normally, these types of buses aren’t capable of exceeding 56 miles per hour. But Reading Buses, the company responsible for Bus Hound, made some adjustments to the vehicle in order to give it the 20+ extra mph needed to eclipse the previous record.

Bus Hound is painted with black and white spots, similar to the dairy cows that are responsible for most of the UK’s milk production. This paint scheme is also indicative of the bus’s biomethane system which is powered by fuel that’s created when special bacteria digest cow manure inside a bioreactor. The fuel is then compressed, liquefied, and stored in tanks on Bus Hound’s roof. Biomethane works in a combustion engine in a way similar to natural gas. The fuel is considered to be a green alternative to gasoline because it requires no extraction of fossil fuels from the ground and it also keeps the methane that would’ve happened naturally thru manure decay to enter the atmosphere.

No word yet as to just what Bus Hound smells like when it’s causing by at 56 miles per hour, however.


Device Renewal Forum Certifies Phone Reuse



Device Renewal Forum

With over 2 billion wireless devices (mobile phones) produced every year, the recycling and reuse of these gadgets is an important environmental issue. Todd chats to Perry LaForge of the Device Renewal Forum about how many major companies are now approaching the issue.

The DRF’s mission is “to expand the growth of the device renewal market through the development of a common and branded certification process for renewed wireless devices”, which means that for consumers, a DRF-certified device will have been properly processed, removing any traces of the previous owners data, and confirms that the phone meets the technical requirements for use on a mobile network. Several major companies, such as Sprint, are joining the scheme and for the sake of the planet, let’s hope the DRF is a success.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

Support my CES 2018 Sponsor:
30% off on New GoDaddy Orders cjcgeek30
$4.99 for a New or Transferred .com cjcgeek99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1h
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1w
Become a GNC Insider: Support this podcast

Powered Bodyboard



Design Icon out of Kowloon, Hong Kong, has created this great concept for a powered bodyboard. Driven by three electrically-powered propellers, the board’s deck has embedded solar cells to extend the battery life, while adjustable buoyancy lets the board both ride the waves and go completely submerged. I want one.

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept Deck

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept Snorkeller

All images courtesy of Design Icon.

 


Ford C-MAX Hybrid Review – First Drive Impressions




I had the chance to drive the New 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid in sunny Los Angeles along with Jeffery Powers from Geekazine.

My first impression of the car is that is a very nice looking vehicle. It defiantly has a Ford family resemblance. From the Grill and headlights on back, you can tell it’s a new Ford. The C-MAX is a name plate that has been used by Ford since 2003 in Europe and late this year, they are bringing it to the US. Totally redesigned for 2013, the C-MAX is built on the global chassis that the Ford Focus is based on, and will be built in Wayne Michigan for the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid (Energi) versions.

Our drive started off in West Hollywood California towards the coast and up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. We drove in a good mix of Highway, City, and Mountains. In the 100 or so miles we put on the car, it averaged 38MPG according to the on-board readout. The EPA Estimates that the C-MAX Hybrid will get 47mpg highway and 47mpg city if driven conservatively.

The C-MAX has 50 more horsepower than the Prius V, which is a similar sized vehicle, and gets 7 more MPG. I did get a chance to drive the Prius V as a comparison and in the Mountains, the C-MAX definitely didn’t seem to be working as hard to climb the hills. I could really feel that extra 50hp!

The C-MAX Hybrid will be hitting the Ford showrooms sometime later this year at a price of around $25k.

If I were in the market for a small car (Hybrid or not) the C-MAX would be high on my list.

For more information about the C-MAX check out http://www.ford.com/cars/cmax/