August 2012: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

                                                 Solar Ivy

The brother and sister team Samuel Cochran and Teresita Cochran behind Sustainably Minded Interactive Technologies (SMIT) are the New York-based producers of solar ivy, ‘a solar energy product that looks and behaves like natural ivy on buildings.’

“Ivy is a plant that integrates with our buildings and our structures – it grows to find light and resources so it can prosper,” says Samuel Cochran, explaining his design inspiration in Organic Spa Magazine. “The concept was how can we as human beings learn from that plant and its relationship to our built environment and create an object that can provide for us in a similar way that this plant can provide for itself.”

Why is it beautiful? The clean energy start-up is climbing the halls of higher education at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City with their modular, and distinctively customizable, solar ivy. These solar beauties will grow anywhere – even up the vertical brick facade of a building – and can be installed to specifications for color, spacing, photovoltaic type, and orientation.

Why is it useful? Re-purposing the traditional ivy covered halls of higher education with solar ivy – leaf-shaped photovoltaic panels that transforms solar power into energy – is a technologically savvy move by the next generation of green-minded students. The leaves combine solar power with cladding and also provide shade for the building. This means green energy and a cooler building with lower energy costs.

Why is it green?  These modular leaves flutter in the breeze and shift to capture the available sunlight – mimicking the natural world while producing energy. A 4×7 foot strip can generate up to 85 watts of solar power. And it doesn’t have to be green – the color is customizable!

Check out Sally’s blog for more B.U.G. designs.

April 2012: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

BISEM Inc.’s BiPV Curtain Wall

BISEM Inc., our neighboring exhibitor at Eco City, is an example of a cleantech company whose growth parallels that of the industry itself. For Eco City show-and-tell, they brought along a high-rise-sized photovoltaic ‘curtain wall’ – a structurally sound glass window that generates electricity from the sun.

CEO Nick Bagatelos explains his solar-powered electricity-generating modular windows in terms of peaches.  He says, “If you have a peach tree in your backyard, when the peaches are ripe, you go out and grab a few peaches. After a week or so of this, the low hanging fruit is gone. So, you go to the garage and grab a ladder to get the fruit at the top of the tree, right? The rooftop PV (photovoltaic solar panels) are the low hanging fruit, my BIPV (building-integrated photovoltaics) Curtain Wall is the stuff on the top of the tree.”

Why is it beautiful?  The BiPV curtain wall is an elegant package – a glass wall that takes solar power from the roof and into the windows. As CEO Nick Bagatelas says, “Most glass walls let light in and keep water out. This wall also generates power.”

Why is it useful? The American-made BiPV Curtain Wall is a Net Zero Energy solution. A building must generate power on site in order to achieve Net Zero, but large multi-story buildings have limited rooftop area to add PV panels.  BISEM’s BIPV Curtain Wall provides an alternative location to harvest electricity at a cost effective price.

Why is it green?
The Curtain Wall, a structurally engineered glass wall that captures sunlight and turns it into electricity, can generate 20% of the energy required for a building to achieve Net Zero Energy.  It can also add as many as 7 LEED point to a building project, and it reduces carbon footprint.

Check out BISEM’s blog to keep up with this innovative cleantech company. See the real thing – a building clad in the curtain walls – at their headquarters in Sacramento. And in the future, find a curtain wall installation, scheduled for a 2013 install, in the San Francisco Airport, among other places.

Check out Sally’s blog for more B.U.G. Designs.

The Whole HOG: March 2012

Water-centric Green Design News

Trending (by the numbers) for 2012

The fourth-largest advertising agency on the planet, J. Walter Thompson (JWT) recently released their alphabetized list of 100 things to watch in 2012. Rainwater harvesting comes in at #58, and rooftop farming at #61. Solar gets simpler (#73), and spiking food prices (#74) are also pieces of the trending global puzzle.

Rainwater HOG is on the road to addressing global concerns of 2012, at the intersection of rainwater harvesting and rooftop farming.  QuickDominguez Architects (a new venture for designer and architect Sally Dominguez) is on the scene in Australia with a twelve-HOG, multi-green roof sustainable renovation of a Bondi Beach residence.

Ecobuild, the world’s largest sustainable building conference, is being held in London this month. Find us there, alongside other innovators working to improve building materials and techniques, and to promote sustainable practice like garden-growing, solar energy, and rainwater harvesting (that’s #58, #61, and #73 on the list).

Inside the Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure report is a call to action. The report is a compelling look at the reality of expanding water scarcity (hello #74 – spiking food prices) and an urgent need to update the United States’ aging water infrastructure.

And finally, veer off-road and into the sand in our B.U.G. Design section, as we get ready to follow Sally on a nine-day road rally through Morocco! She and fellow Australian Samantha Stevens are team 168 in the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles.