Friday, October 24, 2008

Trends in Sustainability- luxury automobiles

Bill Mitchell's lecture was very interesting....

I came across recent information about the release of BMW's new Hydrogen 7 model that "takes in hydrogen and emits nothing but water vapor". So liquid hydrogen would be the source of energy, but it is dual platform, with the conventional gasoline tank as well. Although hydrogen is abundant, I am wondering how that would that impact the infrastructure, having "hydrogen stations" in our cities. Also, BMW is a premium brand, therefore not affordable to the common person, so I am wondering if this technology is cost effective.

Here is the link to an interesting article and some images of the car and the hydrogen stations.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

City Car

For those of you who didn't attend Bill Mitchell's lecture, you missed out... He introduced his research for the city car being developed at MIT. I really sustainable solution to transportation within cities. A few comments (or problems) I had with his lecture are:
  1. He mentioned the implemenation of this vehicle could advocate for more people to move to cities, creating a more dense population.... I guess in theory that sounds good because it would create a smaller footprint for a larger portion of population, but many other problems would be introduced if cities continued to grow.
  2. There is an inherent problem with these being owned by the public at-large... people want to own things and assert there status. With the use of bikes (as he mentioned is currently being done in Paris) this seems less important than with a motorized vehicle... so I feel that argument was flawed.
  3. I honestly think these would be better utilized in suburbia to supply transportation TO the city (not within it)...
  4. I wonder how safe these are? He mentioned no safety was "compromised" in the design, but what does that really mean?

Anyway, for the most part I thought this was a really cool idea and would love to see them utilized in the near future.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hope in Times of Uncertainty

In a letter by Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair of USGBC, talks about the current economic crisis and how it may lead to a recession. And with recession comes unemployment and economic downfall.  Mr. Fedrizzi tells us that the green movement has a commitment to be unwavering in times as such. He also talks about the obvious benefits of the movement such as saving money, energy and creating new jobs.
I believe with the future change with the energy (energy cost will go up) situation, the pressing talk about climate change, and rise of unemployment, this is all opening the doors for a better future for our built environment. I foresee mandates and codes for better building efficiency. I truly cannot see how this economic situation can hurt the green movement, but bolster and even expedite it.
on a side note, I really don't like calling it "green" building. It sounds like a slang term, not a professional terminology. I wish architects had a 1-2 word they can replace "green building/design"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Biomimicking whales

In the sustainability lecture yesterday, I wrote down one of the examples that they talked about because it sounded pretty remarkable. Basically, companies are using whale fins to influence their design of fans, and subsequently, wind turbines. I thought it was especially appropriate since it was one of the "negative" (the group that lost the debate...) group's highlighted alternative energy sources.

An excerpt from one company, the Toronto-based WhalePower Corp:

"Using 'a million years of field tests' to their advantage, Toronto-based WhalePower Corp. is using the fins of humpback whales to help design a better fan (and, hopefully, wind turbine). After US scientists discovered that the tubercles -- the little bumps on humpback fins -- result in 32 percent less drag and an 8 percent rise in lift when compared to a smooth fin. That means a fan blade that 'makes the fan quieter, more efficient, and better at pushing down the air,' according Monica Bowden, chief executive officer of Envira-North, the company that has licensed the WhalePower design."

links with further info:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Some great biomimicry case studies

This website,, has a lot of current applications of biomimicry in architecture. This particular example is of solar panels that are placed in Glasgow's River Clyde that will provide power to the city. They are the architectural version of lily pads, floating, sun absorbing objects. It's a really great idea and not only do they acquire energy but they also serve as a focal point for those visiting the river's edge.

Can running be green?

I'm a runner. Since running (outside!) doesn't require any sort of machinery or energy other than the little bit that I can provide, I assumed running was probably one of the most green sports a person can participate in. After all, I don't have to heat a large body of water to get exercise in the winter, I don't have huge costs involved in upkeep and maintenance of hundreds of acres of snow-covered mountains, I don't spend hours of time and many dollars on gas to drive to a set location to meet up with 12 other teammates who have also had to emit additional carbon dioxide to get there; I walk out the door in the morning and simply start running. Turns out, however, that a runner's most superstitious and prized possessions -- the shoes -- boast hardly any green ingredients... Check out Runner's World's article on just how bad the production of high-performance running shoes and other gear is for the environment...with very little chance for improvement. All that nice squishy and supportive stuff in the shoe is petroleum-based and non-recyclable; it simply won't perform once it has been broken down once. Looks like the main choice we have right now is simply trying to extend the life of the shoes so they don't end up in the landfills so quickly; this link will tell you where you can donate your shoes -- DON'T throw them away!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I found this video clip of interface talking about biomimicry. Thought it was interesting how everything interrelates with each other. I also found a short article of how interface among other businesses are using biomimicry to solve problems and reduce waste. Check it out.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How ant Subterrain Structure's Looks Like

This video is very amazing for some of us that have not seen this before. Must check it out...

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Catawba

Here is a link to some images i found in the news recently having to do with the Catawba River water condition...

Buildings Making the most of Natural Systems

I came across this site which has an interesting video on the mainpage about how buildings & building envelopes can maximize natural systems that it is located in, including light, air, water, & wastes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"Green" gas station in Los Angeles…

Here are a couple links about the LEED certified "green" gas station in Los Angeles.  After I read a little about it I actually started to think it was a good idea…damn they have a good marketing team!  I mean it is a serious oxymoron, but when you take away the fact that it's a gas station, some of the ideas they've implemented are rather nicely done.  The link provides a nice look from a design perspective while BP's site talks a little more about energy.