The Green Minds

Knowledge To Get Into a Green Frame of Mind

Archive for Tech

Happy, Healthy Cows, and More Milk


Photo via Daily Mail, credit SWNS

Swinging Cow Wash Means Happy, Healthy Cows, and More Milk

The cow wash is a free-swinging brush that starts rotating when a cow rubs up against it. The cow can move around the brush as it pleases, getting rubbed wherever it wants – along its sides, back, and head.

The Daily Mail writes that the cow wash increases milk production by about 3.5% through improving blood circulation and decreasing the likeliness that cows will suffer disease. The company has already sold 30,000 cow washes in Sweden, and is moving on to the UK.

The cows definitely seem to enjoy it!

Though there are serious environmental issues with raising cows for milk (let alone beef), it’s not likely that we’ll see an end to dairy farming. So hats off to the dairy farmers who are doing all they can to make sure their cows are happy, healthy, and treated humanely.

Photo via Daily Mail, credit SWNS

Advertisements

Car Charging


The Car Charging Group, Inc. (CCGI) this weekend announced a partnership with LAZ Parking in New York and New Jersey to begin outfitting its facilities with smart, electric vehicle charging stations.

The Miami-based CCGI installs and maintains electric vehicle charging stations in government-owned lots, and at commercial sites like shopping malls, hotels, stadiums and corporate parking garages. LAZ Parking operates over 1,300 parking facilities in 21 states and 99 cities. The LAZ Parking sites will be equipped by CCGI with smart, ChargePoint Level II, 240 volts charging stations, manufactured by Coulomb Technologies.

Smart charging stations, unlike those designed for home-garage use, have metering and e-commerce capabilities, and are visible online. Drivers can find smart charging stations on Google Maps, for example.

Coloumb Technologies, the recipient of a $15 million Department of Energy grant (funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Transportation Electrification Initiative) is a leader in sales of charging stations in the U.S.

The company is, with some of its government grant money, setting up — sometimes temporarily free — public electric vehicle charging stations throughout the country, including New York City’s first.

General Electric and Toyota have announced that they are developing and will sell their own smart charging stations, as well.

The Department of Energy estimates that charging station locations in the U.S. will increase 41 times over between 2009 and 2012.

Citing consumer demand and a slew of new charging station technology, and vehicle models — like the Nissan Leaf, GM Chevy Volt, Fisker Karma, and Tesla Model S — Car Charging Group, Inc.’s president Andy Kinard said Saturday that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Obama administration fulfilled its goal: getting one million plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

To recharge at public or commercially installed stations, Kinard says hybrid and electric vehicle owners should be prepared to pay about $3 per hour. He noted: “It’s hard to get 220 volts out into the streets. [Parking facilities] do have to charge more than it would cost an electric vehicle driver to plug in at home. But that’s nothing compared to gas prices now. And it will still be cheaper than what you spend driving an internal combustion engine.”

New York City’s Motto: I Heart Tap Water


NEW YORK — New York City is so proud of its tap water that the Bloomberg administration has come up with a product line to promote it as an affordable, sustainable alternative to bottled water, according to the New York Times.

The merchandise, which bears a NYC Water logo, ranges from glasses and T-shirts to coasters, decanters and water bottles and is available at CityStore, the city’s online shop for all things New York, the story stated.

Cas Holloway, New York City’s environmental protection commissioner, said: “Our high-quality drinking water not only quenches New Yorkers’ thirst, but is the not-so-secret ingredient in the bagels, pizza and thousands of other dishes that people come from around the world to get.”

According to the story, the water is so clean that it does not require filtration and comes from highly protected watersheds in Upstate New York.

The Environmental Protection Department oversees a daily supply of more than one billion gallons of water that serves more than nine million people, the story noted.

To reduce consumption of bottled water, New York City is also providing outdoor drinking water stations this summer connected to fire hydrants at parks, public plazas and other outdoor spaces, the story added.

Click here to read the complete story.

For related information, click here.

Summer Energy Conservation


In April 2007, Mayor Bloomberg released PlaNYC 2030, the long-term sustainability plan for the City of New York. Within the Plan, the City committed to lead by example by reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from City operations 30% by 2017. Subsequently, in July 2008 Mayor Bloomberg released the Long-Term Plan to Reduce Energy Consumption and Green House Gas Emissions by Municipal Buildings and Operations (The Long-Term Plan), which outlined the steps the City should take to reach its ambitious goal. You may visit the City’s Energy Management website to learn more about the comprehensive efforts the City is taking to reduce energy use.

As part of the City’s overall energy conservation efforts, the Department of Education (DOE), in partnership with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services Division of Energy Management (DCAS DEM) is implementing energy efficiency programs in existing school buildings. Program areas include: energy benchmarking, building audits and retrofits, improved operations and maintenance, Peak Load Management, metering and monitoring imitative, summer kitchen energy conservation and renewable energy. Each of these programs is described in more detail below.

Building Energy Benchmarking

DOE benchmarked its buildings’ energy consumption using the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Principals, teachers, parents and students are encouraged to review DOE’s benchmarking data by creating a free account and sending their username to sustainability@schools.nyc.gov. In the e-mail, please indicate the name and address of the school’s data you would like to access.

Building Audit and Retrofit Program

DCAS DEM uses the benchmarking data to prioritize schools that will receive energy audits on an annual basis. Energy audits assess current building performance and find cost effective energy conservation measures (ECMs) that will improve the energy efficiency of the building(s) and reduce the City’s annual energy costs.

Operations & Maintenance Initiative

The Long-Term Plan estimated that improved operations and maintenance (O&M) of existing municipal buildings could reduce 195,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and millions of dollars in energy costs. Since schools comprise 40% of the City’s total municipal building square footage, DOE was one of two agencies to participate in a year-long O&M pilot program at 10 schools. The program will be expanded citywide over the next few years. One of the program’s goals is to educate building users about the simple steps they can take to conserve energy, both in the cold winter months and in the warmer summer months. Click on the following links to find winter and summer energy-savings tips Winter Energy-Saving Tips and Summer Energy-Saving Tips. School custodian engineers and building managers can get additional tips from US Department of Energy Operating and Maintaining Energy Smart Schools Online Training program.

Peak Load Management Program

DOE participates in the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Peak Load Management Program (PLM), designed to help NYPA avoid electrical system overload and prevent power outages during very hot summer days. Currently, 18 school buildings participate in the program.

Summer Kitchen Energy Conservation

In 2009, DOE’s Division of School Food introduced the Summer Kitchen Energy Conservation pilot program in 57 schools citywide. The program was designed to unplug (if feasible) school cafeteria refrigerators and freezers during summer break. As a result, DOE and the City reduced energy use by 100,000 kilowatt-hours and saved thousands of dollars in electrical bills. This summer, DOE will expand the program to all schools that are closed for the summer.

Renewable Energy

DOE is exploring renewable energy opportunities with DCAS DEM and the New York Power Authority.

Energy Efficiency in New School Buildings

DOE is also committed to reducing energy usage in new school buildings. The School Construction Authority (SCA) implements all major capital improvements and new construction for DOE. As part of the City’s Local Law 86 SCA developed the NYC Green School Guide.

Resources

In addition to energy initiatives at school buildings, DOE encourages students and school community involvement in energy conservation initiatives through school participation in Green School Alliance and other non-profit programs.

Green Schools Alliance Programs

As a charter member of the Green Schools Alliance (GSA) ( www.greenschoolsalliance.org ), DOE encourages student, teacher, and principal participation in sustainability initiatives, including energy conservation, through the following GSA programs:
Green Cup Challenge
Green Schools Resource Fair
One Million Acts of Green
Student Climate and Conservation Congress (SC3)

Junior Energy

Junior Energy’s mission is to work in classrooms and schools to help children discover how they can positively impact the planet by engaging their parents, family, friends and neighbors in small, simple actions.

Alliance for Climate Education

Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) delivers in-person, science-based, multimedia presentations on climate change designed for high school age students that inspire all school community to go green. This no cost 45 minute presentation also addresses certain New York science standards from the Living Environment: Core Curriculum. For more information, visit the ACE website.

The Next 50 Years’ Big Sustainable Design Project


2030 Vision of Urban Transport



Our Cities Ourselves is on view from June 24 to September 11, 2010

Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place, NY, NY 10012

Our Cities Ourselves: The Future of Transportation in Urban Life explores the creation of better cities through better transportation and demonstrates what is possible when we design our cities for ourselves.

By 2030, sixty percent of the world’s population will live in cities. As cities become increasingly dense, personal automobiles will become less and less feasible transport options. Sustainable transportation will be the key to the health of our cities, our own health, and the health of the environment.

In honor of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy’s 25th anniversary, Our Cities Ourselves envisions sustainable urban futures for ten major global cities: Ahmedabad, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Dar es Salaam, Guangzhou, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Mexico City, New York City and Rio de Janeiro. In each city, ITDP field offices and international architects propose ideal transportation futures grounded in current conditions. The proposals present safe, vibrant streets that promote social and economic equality, privilege mass transit, bicyclists and pedestrians, and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Exhibition Architects:
Ahmedabad, India | HCP Design and Project Management
Budapest, Hungary | Varos-Teampannon and Kozlekedes
Buenos Aires, Argentina | PALO Arquitectura Urbana
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | Adjaye Associates
Guangzhou, China | Urbanus Architecture & Design
Jakarta, Indonesia | Budi Pradono Architects
Johannesburg, South Africa | Osmond Lange Architects and Ikemeleng Architects
Mexico City, Mexico | arquitectura 911sc
New York City, United States | Terreform and Michael Sorkin Studio
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | Fábrica Arquitetura and CAMPO

Source : AIANY |  OurCitiesOurselves

Solving Problems With Sustainable – and Beautiful – Design



‘Why Design Now?’, a new exhibition in NYC, explores ways to solve problems with innovative design

Timothy Prestero designed a baby incubator for hospitals in the developing world that could be made cheaply from Toyota truck parts. Mallory Taub and fellow students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) created an inexpensive, easy-to-build dome using locally made bricks. John Todd’s Eco-Machine, in use in more than 100 locations, provides a sustainable alternative to traditional wastewater treatment, a natural system that’s not only practical but beautiful.

Visitors exploring the wide-ranging “Why Design Now?” exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City are likely to come away in awe of how designers such as these are employing their creativity to become 21st-century problem-solvers.

This year’s triennial, the fourth in a series that appears every three years at the museum, breaks new ground by going beyond the work of US designers, highlighting 134 projects from 44 countries.

IN PICTURES: Designs from “Why Design Now?” at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

The show, which opened May 14, focuses on the way design can help solve pressing world needs.

“I think design is going to be the major tool of this century to help solve many of these problems,” says Cara McCarty, curatorial director at the Cooper-Hewitt and one of four curators who pulled the enormous project together. “Good design can push people’s thinking. This show is tackling issues that go way beyond our borders.”

Organized around eight themes – energy, mobility, community, materials, prosperity, health, communication, and simplicity – “Why Design Now?” gives a passing nod to the innovative design expressed by a few iconic consumer items launched in the last three years – the multitasking iPhone; the Kindle wireless reader; and Twitter, the online social network.

But most of the exhibits will surprise, perhaps startle, and in some cases delight viewers.

“Design is about optimism,” Ms. McCarty says. “Design is finding solutions. This is not a doom-and-gloom show.”

Labels for each work answer why it is in the show – what makes it unique and useful in the world. While most of the objects are in production and available to buy, some are still prototypes. Many express a combination of both beauty and utility – while also embracing the need to be environmentally responsible.

“Today, as designers strive to simplify production processes and consume fewer materials in smaller amounts,” notes the exhibition catalog, “the quest for simplicity is shaping design’s economic and ethical values as well as its sense of beauty.”

For example, when in use, the Power Aware Cord glows a soothing ice blue. But it also reminds the user that whatever device it is attached to is consuming electricity. The Cobi office chair combines elegant design and comfort with the ultimate in reuse: It can be completely recycled.

The bioWAVE Ocean-wave Energy System, a prototype from Australia shown only on video, looks to the motion of the natural world for inspiration. Attached to the seabed, it would rock gently in tune with ocean currents, mimicking swaying sea grass and seaweed. Each unit could produce up to 2 megawatts of power. A field of such machines would become a sizable undersea power plant.

Among other places, the Eco-Machine cleans the wastewater at the Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, N.Y., two hours north of New York City. Dr. Todd’s system passes dirty water through naturally occurring enzymes, fungi, bacteria, plants, and animals (insects and fish) in a series of pond and greenhouse settings.

“We go into the local environment and literally bring in hundreds of thousands of forms of life and let them sort themselves out” inside his Eco-Machine, he says. “It’s called ‘seeding.’ ”

Part of the Eco-Machine even grows flowers for display in the centers. Eventually the water returns to the aquifer, “cleaner than water from a conventional wastewater treatment plant”, says Laura Lesniewski, a principal at BNIM, an architectural firm in Kansas City that designed the building. “This whole system doesn’t cost any more than if they replaced it with a traditional septic system.”

Demonstrating a modern twist on an ancient technique, the MIT Masonry Research Group used 720 bricks made from 30 percent raw sewage and postindustrial waste to build a 16-foot-wide undulating arch inside the Cooper-Hewitt. The student team took three days to complete the structure.

The bricks are only 1-1/2 inches thick, yet the arch is so strong that two MIT students have stood atop a similar structure built on the campus.

“We’re trying to show that bricks can do more than make a wall,” Ms. Taub says. “Bricks can span surfaces. They can do that in a very beautiful, innovative way.”

Special computer-designed curves within the arch add to its strength.

“It’s very strong, even though it’s very thin,” she says. It can be built by unskilled laborers who lay the bricks over a simple wooden form.

The design for the Neonurture Car-parts Baby Incubator rested on a simple fact.

“Think of it,” says Mr. Prestero, founder and CEO of Design That Matters in Cambridge, Mass. “There are three things you can buy anywhere in the world: a Coke, cigarettes, and car parts.”

Most medical equipment donated to the developing world breaks or is abandoned for lack of parts within a few years, he says. But major automakers such as Toyota already extend their parts supply lines into the remotest corners of the world.

Incubators are used to keep infants warm for the first 24 hours after birth. “There are 1.8 million infant deaths per year because of hypothermia,” Prestero says. Having a working incubator at a local hospital or clinic could save many lives.

A Toyota truck has about 17,000 parts, he says. His team’s design objective was to “take away all the parts that aren’t an incubator.” The result looks a bit like a street vendor’s cart or baby carriage hiding a car battery for generating heat. At first Prestero thought parents would want something designed to look comfortable and friendly. But instead, he found, they wanted the reassurance of a high-tech look – “NASA, not IKEA.”

Creating a “warm box” for the infant isn’t hard, he concedes. But keeping the design simple can be. “We want to make it easy to do the right thing and hard to do the wrong thing,” he says. As a result, the incubator has a single knob to control the temperature and requires minimal training to operate.

The Cooper-Hewitt’s four curators spent three years searching for innovative and world-changing designs. A museum website solicited ideas from the public, many of which were included.

The design of the exhibition itself tries to “walk the walk” of sustainability. The furniture, for example, is made from 100 percent postindustrial recycled wood. At every step of the way, efforts were made to reduce waste and choose materials that took little energy to manufacture and ship and were recyclable. It’s all meant to inspire visitors.

“This [exhibition] is about how can we solve the world’s problems together,” McCarty says. “Hopefully people will walk out asking, ‘What can I do? What difference can I make?’ ”

• “National Design Triennial: Why Design Now?” runs through Jan. 9, 2011, and is expected to travel to venues both within the US and abroad.

Source : CSMonitor