The task of building an entire city from scratch isn’t novel in Dubai — it seems there’s a new city announcement every half year or so.  Xeritown is one of the latest that I’ve learned about and it’s planned for Dubailand.  The idea behind the 60-acre city is that it will be designed to accommodate the elements of the desert rather than overcome them.  The form of the city follows a north-south axis to take advantage of the cool breeze coming in from the sea.  The buildings, rather than artificial and water intense landscaping, provide shading and structure. 

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It looks like the nation’s first provider of green insurance coverage for the commercial sector has decided to expand that coverage into the residential sector.  Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company will be offering green coverage to homeowners who either own a green home or who want to upgrade their home with green features in the event of a loss.  So in a loss situation, the homeowners can rebuild their home and have it certified under the LEED system. 

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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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So I have some renderings and information on Blu Homes, and I've also spoken with the folks in charge of this company.  They're serious about building homes that are green, convenient, affordable, and also perfectly sized.  The management team has considerable experience in this industry and I expect to see great things.  Plus, with homes in development in both Utah and Massachusetts, you may be able to catch a live walk-through as early as this winter.  So let's get a small preview. 

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This is Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center, a $9.8 million visitor’s center near Ashville, North Carolina.  As a modern structure seeking LEED Gold certification, it’s garnered significant press for its ecological design.  Designed by Lord, Aeck, & Sargent, Blue Ridge was modeled to use 75% less energy than a comparable, conventionally designed building.  That’s due, at least in part, to its incredible green features, such as the sawtooth Trombe walls on the southerly face, 10,000 sf green roof, natural daylighting, high-efficiency mechanical system, natural ventilation, radiant heating, rainwater reclamation system for on-site use, etc. 

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It’s not an airport, it’s a spaceport–a commercial station for the burgeoning business of space travel.  As you can see from the renderings, this structure is the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building, aka Spaceport America, which was designed by Foster + Partners (and SMCP Architects).  As the first private spaceport in America, Spaceport America will be built to LEED Platinum standards.  Perhaps more importantly, the building should have minimal impact on the surrounding environment: "the low-lying form is dug into the landscape to exploit the thermal mass, which buffers the building from the extremes of the New Mexico climate as well as catching the westerly winds for ventilation. Natural light enters via skylights, with a glazed facade reserved for the terminal building, establishing a platform for the coveted views onto the runway."  The project is expected to cost about $31 million and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will be the main tenant. 

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Twenty teams have been selected by the U. S. Department of Energy to compete in the 2007 Solar Decathlon, which takes place in Washington D. C. from October 12-20, 2007.  As part of the competition, teams are challenged to design, build, and operate the most attractive, energy-efficient solar-powered home.  Using only energy from the sun and with an eye towards modern design, teams meticulously choose the products and materials that go into their home.  Interestingly, at least five teams, including MIT, UT-Austin, U. of Maryland, U. of Cincinnati, and Lawrence Technological University, are using the Warmboard Radiant Subfloor system.  I’ve noticed the increasing use of Warmboard in several green projects, so I thought I would do a small post on the subject.

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Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of discussing the phenomenon of container housing with David Cross, Chief Business Development Officer for SG Blocks LLC.  SG Blocks, short for Safe and Green, is a sustainable building system made from containers.  Going beyond the trendy fascination with exposed container architecture design–modern, industrial, and extremely good looking, in my opinion, SG Blocks intends to use containers as a fundamental component to building construction.  A container home doesn’t necessarily have to look like a container home (that’s up to you), but it can have all the same advantages: comfortable, strong, green, and affordable.   

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In the heart of Seattle, the design professionals at Mithun see a farm rising vertically into the sky.  Although it may never be built, the Center for Urban Agriculture (CUA) won “Best of Show” in the Cascadia Region Green Building Council’s Living Building Challenge.  Vertically constructed on a.72 acre site, the off-grid building is designed to be completely energy and water sufficient and will include 318 affordable apartments (studio – 2 bedroom).  And on top of that, there will be greenhouses, rooftop gardens, a chicken farm, and fields for growing vegetables and grains. 

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I sat on this post for a while trying to find up-to-date information on its status but was unable to locate anything.  This is a storage facility planned for the east bank of the Willamette River.  Typical storage facilities can take up to 30 acres, but this one, designed for house boats, recreational vehicles, and storage pods, is going to be maxed out on 3 acres.  The taller tower rises 22 stories into the sky and uses a giant mechanical arm capable of lifting 40,000 lbs.  Interestingly, the project is planning construction to LEED Platinum standards and will include more than 175,000 sf of solar panels (making it the largest solar facility in the northwest).  With the estimated project costs at about $40 M, Portland City Storage also plans to rehabilitate the riverfront property adjacent to the towers. 

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Hot on the heels of Best Buy’s announcement to build new stores to LEED standards, we have Office Depot and Staples jumping into the LEED game.  With these announcements, we’re seeing two main trends: (1) the mainstreaming of green buildings and (2) the business case for green buildings, especially in the retail context.  It just makes sense.  But as many other commentators have mentioned, these so called green stores will be energy efficient, made of renewable materials, and will use less water, BUT they’re huge and a by-product of American sprawl.  Without passing judgment, I have the belief that a green retail store is better than a non-green retail store.  It’s a step in the right direction.  More on each company below.

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Eco-friendly and special versions of the Nokia C7 and the Nokia N8 have been announced. These new eco-friendly Nokia Symbian handsets will not look different and will come with an eco apps folder which will contain green content such as games and other third party applications.

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Sony Ericsson’s newest eco-friendly cellphone, the GreenHeart labeled Naite, has shown up on the Sony Style website with its pricing and other details. This 3G Sony Ericsson Naite phone is priced at $159 in U. S.

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It all started when an article in the London Times took a few liberties with the work of Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard physics professor who had done research on the amount of energy used by search engines. The Times article stated that according to professor Wissner-Gross, a Google query created roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling kettle.

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Gray Powell is the unfortunate Apple Software Engineer who left his iPhone 4G device at a bar in Redwood City, and Gizmodo apparently paid someone 5000 dollars for it. Gizmodo held on to the mystery device before publishing an article that detailed their finders keepers prototype. Apple wants it back. Gizmodo gave a detailed report on lost device and the new features as well as industrial design of the device.

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Google has unveiled its highly anticipated “Google Phone,” or the Nexus One, an Android-powered smartphone and the first device the company will sell directly from a new online store.

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IBM has unveiled a new service that will allow corporations to analyze their CO2 emissions and energy usage at any level with the launch of Strategic Carbon Management.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that after the election, Barack Obama’s advisors held a meeting with IBM to find out what kind of impact federal funding for the IT industry would accomplish.

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You have to love it when environmentally friendly meets practical and that’s exactly what’s happened with the new release of Novothink’s latest creation, the Surge. While it’s just out and we haven’t had a chance to get our hot, little hands on it to test yet, the Surge looks good and sounds like something that would see use in our households on a daily basis.

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As the largest wireless carriers, AT&T and Verizon, have done away with unlimited data plans over the lase few years, T-Mobile has decided to bring them back. The nation’s fourth largest wireless carrier has announced that it will start selling unlimited data plans once again starting September 5.

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Amazon announced Wednesday that they will be teaming up with Viacom, who controls major cable channels like Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV and VH1, for it’s Amazon Prime streaming services. This means there is programming for the whole family with hours of streaming from the likes of “Jersey Shore” and “Chappelle’s Show” and “Dora the Explorer” for the kids.

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If you prefer a simpler sort of phone gadget, the Motorola Renew might be just the ticket. The Motorola Renew is the first phone made of recycled products, made from plastic comprised of recycled bottles. Twenty percent less energy is used during production, compared to standard plastic processes. The Motorola W233 Renew is also the world’s first carbon neutral phone.

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In the past few years, CarbonFund. org has devised its CarbonFree Certification program as a way to advocate products that employ eco-friendly designs. The latest to be certified is the Motorola MOTO W388 Renew+ cell phone, which packs the technology users want and need in an eco-friendly package.

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The latest line of Apple Macbook laptops have made some headway in reducing their environmental impact. They claim that they are significantly more recyclable and energy efficient.

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Created by London designer Patrick Hyland, the Nokia E-Cu concept handset has a thermogenerator built in so that it can convert heat into energy. The copper outer layer, which is designed to look like dry, cracked earth, has engraved heatsinks which draw body heat energy to convert into charge.

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Philips recently announced its Eco TV. The 42-inch, 1080p resolution, flat-panel LCD, model 42PFL5603D is packed with power-saving features.

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At the 2010 New York Auto Show, Sarah Silverman will host a debate hosted by Lexus between skeptic Phelim McAleer and Amanda Little, an advocate for renewable energy and author of Power Trip. The event has been dubbed, “The Darker Side of Green” debate.

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The Leopard by Powerplus is a solar powered universal TV remote control. The Leopard can charge from direct sunlight and ambient light from artificial sources. By simply having the remote on the arm of a chair, a sofa or on a coffee table, the batteries will charge providing you with power to control your TV without worry of running out of batteries.

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Recent rumors suggest that Sony is preparing to launch a 3D TV channel in partnership with IMAX and the Discovery group this news follows the announcement that Disney owned ESPN, will be launching a 3DTV channel in time for this year’s World Cup.

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Yet another indication that Americans are becoming more conscious of their environmental impact is Sony’s Eco-friendly HDTV – the KDL-VE5 series

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Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove, is among the winners at the 24th annual Genesis Awards this Saturday in Beverly Hills.

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Britain has beein airing some advertisements that depict a father telling a daughter a bedtime story about how humans have been destroying the planet. At the end of the story, the child asks, “Is there a happy ending?” The narrator then declares it’s up to us to determine how the story will end. The commercial is indeed grim, but draws awareness to the critical threshhold our world is standing on. We are tetering on the edge of disaster. If we curb our Co2 consumption now, we have a chance.

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It can be easy to forget how much energy your computer uses up every single day. After all, so many things accessed from your computer are free including all types of services like free news, videos, music, gaming, and even free web hosting. But the energy used to run computers as they perform daily tasks ultimately isn’t free, evident from the high energy bills and harmful carbon emissions. Even when you are away from your computer, the environment still pays significantly if you don’t make some simple changes.

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One of the best ways to become more energy efficient is to start measuring the amount of energy you use in your home every day. A company called Current Cost has developed the ENVI energy monitor. The ENVI connects to your electrical energy supply, and gives you detailed data on usage.

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The developed world has an extremely expensive sewage system that pipes the feces, urine and wastewater from every household to waste treatment centers – hardly a sustainable system.

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By Elaine Snouwaert and Jani Gilbert, Water Quality Program, Eastern Regional Office Pacific Steel and Recycling, with Washington Department of Ecology’s help, has recently undergone some big changes in Spokane so their recycling operation is part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Surface water, like lakes, rivers and streams, is especially vulnerable to pollution in urban areas because it is next to human activities.

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