It’s clear our country is reaching what future generations will see as a watershed moment as it relates to our current energy situation and how we handle it.  In the U. S. alone, buildings account for roughly 70% of electricity use and 39% of energy use, so any discussion of our energy future naturally implicates the built environment.  The current state of discussions on our energy future has brought together some incredible minds and one of those is the great T. Boone Pickens, an expert in recognizing scarce resources and future energy trends.  Just today, he announced his efforts relating to the PickensPlan — a plan he explains himself in the above video.

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Reader and recent commenter Raedia just sent over details of her and her husband’s green home being built in Vermont.  They were able to secure an in-town lot and decided to design and build something that was affordable, sustainable, and stylish.  In looking at the images, I think they were able to do just that.  With a super-insulated structure and passive heating and cooling, the home uses less of the mechanical systems for temperature control. 

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I just noticed this interesting building designed by a college student in Australia and had to mention it.  Andrew Southwood-Jones conceived and rendered the building, actually a green dormitory, for an Autodesk competition and he took the prize in the architecture category.  Called UniCube, it was designed to maximize space, be sustainable, and look good.  Andrew designed the conceptual structure to use a number of sustainable strategies: drought-tolerant plant wall in checkerboard pattern on exterior; exterior "gabion walls" filled with rubble and stone; inner walls made from straw bales; a copper roof that catches wind for ventilation and air circulation (without requiring air conditioning); rotating solar panels generating power for the building’s lights; and rainwater collection for use in irrigation, toilets, and laundry. 

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It seems like there’s a new, cutting-edge technology in the limelight everyday and today is no exception.  You’ve heard of CSP — concentrated solar power, right?  Well Sopogy has been in R&D for several years perfecting their MicroCSP technology.  They developed the above pictured application for commercial, industrial, and small utility uses.  MicroCSP takes traditional, large scale, open faced, desert, parabolic trough CSP panels and shrinks them down to 25% of the size.  The trough is between 12 and 18 feet long and is meant for distributed energy solutions from 200 kW to 20 MW.  It can be used on-site, too, whether on a roof or adjacent to a building. 

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So Sony noticed that we do a lot of book giveaways here, and they offered to let us test run a sleek, shiny, silver Sony Reader PRS-505.  What’s the green angle to a Sony Reader?  We can save a lot of resources if electronic readers capture the market: paper, resources to make paper, ink, transportation, space, etc.  Make sure to read Smart Planet for a thorough eco analysis of the reader, though.  Anyway, being avid readers, we decided to give it a shot, because, to be entirely honest, we can’t stop reading!  So I opened up the box about a month ago (yep, I’ve been using it that long to be sure about what I say below), and I was blown away.  Seriously.  The screen is so much like paper — I couldn’t believe it.  As a result, I decided, then and there, to try to make a video so you can see what I see. 

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This is part of the Jetson Green birthday giveaway, so make sure to leave a comment by midnight Friday, July 25, 2008, if you want to be considered for the contest.*

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Recycling The Past is a vintage/antique building supply store located in New Jersey.  The store offers a wonderful variety of products ranging from mantles to hardware to doors, all of which may be viewed online.  Two of my favorite products are the sinks and the tiles.  There are nine pages of stunning tiles in a range of shapes, colors, and styles.  The collection of decorative tiles is incredible; some of them are amazingly detailed. 

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This is part of the Jetson Green birthday giveaway, so make sure to leave a comment by midnight Tuesday, July 29, 2008, if you want to be considered for the contest.*

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