Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

If you are fortunate enough to live in a part of the world that’s blessed with sunshine a good amount of the year, you take advantage of that blessing.  Students at Cal Poly put their minds to just such a project with their INhouse.  It’s part of a competition that will take place at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, from October 8 through October 18.

“…the name INhouse describes the process the team has been going through—the design, engineering, and construction is really “in house” at Cal Poly. Also, three words—”interactive,” “intuitive,” and “integrated”—describe the technological-meets-natural features of the house. Mostly, it’s learning by doing—a process of iteration and trying many things before reaching a final conclusion.”


Read about the team and watch their video!


Cal Poly’s Solar  Decathlon 2015


INhouse Invites the Outdoors In


The story linked above was first published on the site: 1SunforAll.  Visit them and learn more about the sun’s extraordinary powers and how we are finding new ways to brighten our world with new technology!

Bookmark and Share

Ensuring that the food we eat is locally and sustainably grown is not always easy, especially in cities where crop-growing space is at a premium. Firms like Freight Farms and Cropbox, however, have a solution to this problem. They offer shipping containers that are kitted out as self-contained farms.

blog freightfarm

Check out this truly farm-to-table approach – and when I say farm, I mean freight container:

YouTube Preview Image

Another newbie in this arena is Cropbox, which appears to have a lot of the same features at a reduced cost.  They claim that you can grow the equivalent of an acre of field grown crops or 2,200 square feet of greenhouse space within a 320 sq ft footprint.  The business is scalable as you can expand vertically by stacking the containers 5 high – especially useful if setup in an urban area.

Sustainability features:

90% less water use than conventional and greenhouse cultivation

80% less fertilizer than conventional cultivation

Automatic record keeping for optimization

34% less inventory loss through simpler logistics

And both of these products enable consistent optimization of the growing process via a smartphone.

It kind of makes you want to try out your “green thumb”!


Bookmark and Share

Here’s a look into 10 innovations that can revolutionize the way textiles and other materials to replace plastics are being developed.

1. QMilk: Turns spoiled milk into bio-textile fabric that competes with cotton. The German company has started manufacturing prototypes for new antimicrobial, flame-resistant fibers made out of milk. The super soft fiber is 100% biodegradable, created only with renewable resources, produces zero waste and can be used to make clothing and home textiles. You can even eat the fiber, although it doesn’t taste very good.

2. Geckskin: Adhesives inspired by the footpads of lizards, but without the residue. The Boston-based startup has designed the product to attach and release from surfaces repeatedly, without losing any of its adhesive properties. Think of it as a very powerful, velcro-like Scotch tape that never loses its strength. Potential applications include the home appliance sector and the military. Geckskin is still in its early-stages, several years away from putting anything out on the market.


3. Barktex
: Transforming tree bark into leather-like materials, this agro-forestry company is the brainchild of a husband and wife team looking to scale their business. The process involves stripping the bark off of trees, soaking those strips in water and then, through a composite process, transforming the strips into a material that doubles as leather or upholstery. The project is designed to be low-energy compliant, ecologically safe and provides jobs for hundreds of farmers in Uganda. The goal is to take this model to other parts of Africa and the developing world.


4. Blue Flower
: A textile initiative aimed at supporting and empowering at-risk women and reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing. The company’s founder, fashion designer Eileen Fisher, wants to set up sustainable value chains across the world. The initiative is designed to help poor communities develop low-impact bio-fibers sourced from second-hand clothing, replacing viscose, an artificial textile treated with toxic chemicals.

5. Artificial Bee Silk: Bio-synthetic silk produced through the fermentation of honey bee cocoon silk. The process, created by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, uses genetically engineered bacteria to reproduce highly-flexible “webs,” which can be used for weaving and knitting, or formed into sponges, transparent films or nanofibers.

6. Ambercycle: Harnesses engineered enzymes to degrade plastic bottles, such as soda bottles, making plastic recycling both profitable and sustainable. The system lowers the cost of recycling and uses organic processes with no carbon footprint. This also allows producers to re-use plastics and remove them from landfills.

Benign by Design: Uses data collection and analysis to understand the impact of textiles. The Benign concept is intended to show businesses exactly how textile wear leads to fiber pollution, and offer solutions for controlling emissions. Benign has created a trade-off analysis system that scientifically selects the most cost-effective material with the smallest eco-impact. Dr. Mark Anthony Browne, who came up with the idea as a University of California post-doctoral fellow, says his program “will lead to low-cost effective fabrics that emit fewer and less toxic fibers…throughout their life cycle.”

8. Ecovative: Completely biodegradable packing and insulation using mushroom materials. The product is designed to serve as a replacement for polystyrene, a synthetic polymer used to produce environmentally unfriendly products such as styrofoam cups and packing material. Ecovative materials “can be composted in low temperature home compost piles, and they will break down naturally,” explains design director Sam Harrington. Other uses for the material extend to sandals, surfboards and insulation.

YouTube Preview Image

9. Biocouture: Creates sustainable material from microbes, transforming them into haute couture. The concept was created by fashion designer Suzanne Lee, who envisions microbial cellulose as the catalyst for her innovative approach. Microbial cellulose can be grown in a bucket and used to create biodegradable homewares as well as fashion accessories. And, in keeping with her DIY philosophy, Lee also plans to use Biocouture to share recipes and educational tools.

10. CRAiLARMaking flax competitive in cost and comfort with cotton, CRAiLAR is the most mature of the presenting companies, and is publicly traded on the Canadian stock market. In addition to its wide availability around the world, flax also uses far less water, pesticides and land mass than cotton, resulting in lower emissions. CRAiLAR’s process uses 97% less of the life-cycle water needed to produce a kilogram of cotton. The final product is a soft, natural fiber that is nearly indistinguishable from cotton, without the high price.

Bookmark and Share

North West Bicester (pronounced “Bister”) is one of four designated eco-towns in the UK announced by the government in 2007. The aim is to create a town that is good for the environment, good for the economy and a nice place to live.

This eco-town described as the UK’s “most sustainable development” is moving closer to being occupied. The first residents are expected to move into North West Bicester later this year. It is also one of a handful of One Planet communities around the world. The One Planet scheme was set up by sustainability charity BioRegional. It aims to find ways for people and societies to reduce their level of consumption to an extent that is sustainable based on the amount of resources that the planet can provide.

Take a peek at this exciting new town development:

YouTube Preview Image

Looks like an ideal place to live.  What great ideas do you have that could make this an even more sustainable place to be?

Bookmark and Share

The Eiffel Tower in Paris is an easily identifiable structure – no matter where on the planet you happen to reside.  Designed by Gustav Eiffel, it became the symbol of the city, and remains a tourist attraction that draws throngs of visitors each and every year.

But…there’s a move afoot all around the globe for eco-friendly and sustainable building – and Paris is embracing this trend!

35 Story Carbon Neutral


Wood Skyscraper


Proposed For Paris


Wood skyscraper Paris

As reported on PlanetSaveVancouver architect Michael Green is a world leader in designing and building tall buildings out of wood, says a report in the Vancouver Sun.  Now, in partnership with French architects DVVD Paris and developer REI France, he has proposed a 35 story carbon neutral wood skyscraper for the Reinvent Paris competition, a bold effort by local authorities to inspire innovations in urban design and sustainability that will revitalize Parisian architecture.  [This story first appeared on the Green Building Elements site.]

Are you busy mentally constructing the buildings of the future?  There are lots of places looking for your vision and optimism!  Become part of the movement…

Bookmark and Share

Subscribe to this category Subscribe to Buildings

ChatClick here to chat!+