Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

With the global growing population, and millions forced to walk more than a mile to collect their daily supply, new ways to find water is critical.

Here are some novel ideas that just may prove beneficial in this quest:

1. Growing glaciers

More than half of the world’s fresh water is stored in glaciers, 15 times more than all of the world’s lakes, rivers and wetlands combined. As a result of climate change, almost every glacier studied has been found to be shrinking and meltwater is simply lost to the rivers and sea. An Indian geo-engineer Chewang Norphel, who lives in Ladakh on the edge of the Himalayas diverts meltwater onto little plateau where it freezes. He has created 10 artificial glaciers this way, which can be used for water in the dry summer months.

2. A bath without water

At the age of 17, Ludwick Marishane was sunbathing in the Limpopo province of South Africa. His friend said idly to him: “Man, why doesn’t somebody invent something that you can just put on your skin and you don’t have to bathe.” Marishane researched the idea, eventually formulating a lotion called DryBath. Marishane says that DryBath – a blend of essential oils, bioflavonoids, and odour-eliminating chemical tawas – saves four liters of water ever session, a total of a million liters in total.

3. Ultra water efficient shower

We are all familiar with the moment. You get into the shower, turn the tap, then avoid the water until the temperature equalizes. For Peter Cullin, from Australia, said, “Every minute of every day, in millions of homes around the world quality fresh drinking water is lost to the drain from inefficient showers.” To solve the dilemma, Cullin created his “Cullector Ultra Efficient Shower”, a screw-in device that captures water at the beginning of a shower and and feeds it back into the system. If installed in 1,000 showers, Cullin says the device would save 200m liters of water a year.

4. The lifesaver bottle

“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink”, wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This paradox struck Michael Pritchard while watching news reports of the Boxing Day tsunami a decade ago. Clean water was being brought in on trucks as the floodwater was too dirty. To solve this problem, he invented his “lifesaver” bottle, which uses a pump to force water through a 15-nanometer filter, cleansing it of all bacteria and viruses. Since its launch, the Lifesaver Bottle has been used by hikers, aid companies and the British army in Afghanistan.

5. Rainmaking with lasers

In the 1840s, James P. Espy thought burning large fires in the American west would bring rain to the east. In the 1950s, there were attempts at cloud seeding. Now, the idea of rainmaking has returned to the scientific agenda. The idea this time is to fire lasers into the atmosphere. Properly-directed pulses of light have been shown to help ice sublime and vapor condense. The World Meteorological Organization recently debated the future use of this new technology. One of the possibilities is to use lasers to induce rain at times of drought.

6. The fold up toilet

Along with the shower, the toilet is one of the home’s greatest source of water waste. As much as seven liters can vanish in a single flush and, wanting to improve matters, two students from the University of Huddersfield have invented Iota, the folding toilet. Iota’s design is markedly different to the traditional toilet and, as such, makes more efficient use of water. Gareth Humphreys and Elliott Whiteley, Iota’s inventors, claim that if installed it could save 10,000 liters per person every year.

7. Leak monitoring

Despite all the water wasted inside the home – dripping taps, inefficient toilets and showers – utility companies acknowledge that as much as a third is lost to leaks before it even arrives. Tackling this problem is Zonescan Alpha, a software that pinpoints leaks and relays data back to a control center. It works by embedding sensors throughout a network and has been successfully trialled by Albstadtwerke, a German utility company, which says it helped reduce waste by 2m liters.

8. Solar powered water purification

Hot climates suffer the most from a lack of water, making the invention of 16-year-old American, Deepika Kurup, all the more intriguing. Hailed as one of the USA’s brightest young scientists, this year Kurup was awarded the US Stockholm Junior Water Prize for her ingenious solar-chemical purification process. This involves exposing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to ultra violet radiation from the sun to produce a photo catalytic composite that cleans water. “This technology is green, safe, cost effective and easily deployable,” said Kurup.

Are there any environmental water engineers who can bring their expertise to new technology and make a real difference in this vast world we live in?


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January 17th, 2015

Although heating oil prices have dropped to new lows in the U.S., consider this alternative that’s being tried for home heating – what a great way to reduce, reuse, recycle instead of waste, waste, waste…

Paul Benoit calls what he’s created a “digital heater”. Essentially it’s a bank of computers designed so that the heat they generate is channelled around a room or building that needs heating.  He came up with a simple but devilishly clever idea for a new company, Qarnot Computing.

Read more here:

Heating buildings using computers

Paul Benoit - computer heat

Paul Benoit says that the demand for computer centres will only continue to grow

Do you have an idea for a distribution program that takes otherwise ‘unused’ material and makes it a productive resource?  You might just be onto something!


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January 13th, 2015

When we think of hydro-electric power, we usually envision massive structures – - mighty dams that pump vast amounts of water into energy production.  What if bigger isn’t always better?  Here’s a story out of Colorado in the United States that shows how you can be small and mighty!

“A fledgling industry is taking shape, focused on putting small electricity generation on already existing water infrastructure – known as small hydro.”  (Check out the related content links at the bottom of the story for more information…)


Small Hydro Is Renewable


Energy The New Congress


Might Just Get Behind


Colorado Dam

The outlet at Button Rock Dam on Ralph Price Reservoir, near Lyons, Colo.
Joe Mahoney Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

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Rarely do you find construction that is touted as a green home to be attractive. Here are 9 gorgeous houses that prove that a dream home can also be a green home.

“Green building” is an effort to curb the environmental toll of inefficient homes, and it’s taking hold in the construction sector. The Huffington Post reached out to nine architects to talk about their stunning projects that are not only sustainable, but beautiful too. What do you think – take a look at the gallery of pictures for each of these green construction projects here.

I especially love the idea of #9, being able to heat the house with a hair dryer!

1. This beautiful butterfly alights on the California hills — and saves you water.

blog butterfly house

The shape of the roof allowed Jonathan Feldman, principal architect, and his team to incorporate something that he is most excited about: rainwater collection. With California’s recent drought strengthening its grip on residents, rainwater collectors can be assets for people willing to spend a little bit more money. “The long view is worth considering,” Feldman said.

2. Recycling has never looked this good.

blog recycling house

Situated on Orcas Island in Washington, architect Gary Gladwish’s Eagle Ridge Residence emphasizes the use of recyclable materials. “I don’t rule something out just because it’s used,” Gladwish says. “Some of the appliances, the fireplace, all of the wood siding, the material for the bathroom counters, all of that was used, upcycled or recycled material.”

3. A little positioning can make spending on heating and air conditioning a thing of the past.

In the Manifold House, windows and vents within the home can help keep the house at the desired temperature. This precise tuning of the air channels in the house completely removes the need for typical air conditioning systems.

In the Manifold House, windows and vents within the home can help keep the house at the desired temperature. This precise tuning of the air channels in the house completely removes the need for typical air conditioning systems.

4. Solar panels can be easy on your eyes — and your wallet.

To keep the house tightly insulated, the solar panels aren’t bolted to the roof. No holes are drilled through the building envelope; instead, ballasts keep the solar panels in place and ensure that if the solar array ever needs to be adjusted, the roof will not be needlessly damaged.

5. What could be better than a house on Martha’s Vineyard? A house MADE OF Martha’s Vineyard.

blog vineyard house

“The house is almost invisible, and much smaller than the house it replaced,” Rose of Peter Rose + Partners said. What gives the house its cloak of invisibility is its wood siding, made of unfinished wood that weathers naturally over time, and a green roof, populated by local sea grasses. The roof collects water into a cistern, irrigates the land around the house and keeps the house independent in terms of its water use.

6. With a bit of planning, you can build a normal sized house with 30 percent fewer trees.

“In standard framing, you don’t need to align your studs, and there’s so much extra wood, it’s almost idiot proof,” SHED Architecture & Design’s Thomas Schaer said. “But with advanced framing, with extra care and planning, you can use 30 percent less of everything.” Advanced framing also prevents the transfer of heat from the interior to the exterior, creating more insulation, which keeps the house’s temperature more steady.

7. Get rid of your heating and air conditioning and replace it with…concrete?

Much of the Courtyard House’s structure is made of concrete, which uses radiant heating to keep the house’s temperature regulated. “The radiant floor of the house evens out the spiking of temperature,” Ted Cameron of DeForest Architects said. The home faces the sun and absorbs heat during the day, and then uses its stored heat to stay comfortable at night. “The house cools down at night and stays cool at night,” even without an air conditioning system.

8. Don’t sacrifice; you can still live large even if you build small.

blog small house

Large homes are a symbol of status in the United States, but architect Craig Steely asks, “Do you really need to build that big?” Lavaflow 5, overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the island of Hawaii, is remarkably small. At 1,100 square feet, it provides a comfortable home that uses as much energy as it generates.

9. Seal your envelope tight and heat your home with a hair dryer.

blog envelope house

“We really try to balance with the environment,” said Joe Giampietro of NK Architects. Part of what helps the house conserve energy so effectively is its tight envelope; the envelope prevents the outside temperature from affecting the inside temperature when all the windows and doors are closed and allows heat to spread through the house easily. “Theoretically, the net energy needs of the house can be met by a small heat source, like a hair dryer,” he said.


What does your dream house look like?  Do you have the “know how” to contribute to a greener living space?



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December 15th, 2014

If you’re from the British Isles, you take ‘the lift’ when you want to ascend to an upper floor in a building.  There’s now tech that will make your travel in an elevator a bit more unusual -

 “So what exactly makes the design so special? First, it can travel sideways as well as up and down, making it ideal for building designs such as Google’s under-construction “groundscraper” in London, which, as its nickname sort of suggests, is longer than it is tall.”


New Magnetic


Sideways Elevator


Watch the video announcement from the system’s designer:  ThyssenKrupp


Otis Elevators, founded by Elisha Otis, is still the world’s largest producers of vertical transport systems. We’re still largely using cable systems to hoist elevator cabs up and down between floors, as we did in the early 1800s. And as urbanization stretches cities taller and wider, this will have to change.”

There’s a batch of articles on the subject – it’s being tested in Germany at present.

Read more:

If they install this on any campuses, wouldn’t this be a cool way to get to that class you’re always late for???

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