Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Environmentally-friendly

The Hathigaon elephants can visually connect with their caretakers (Photo: Carlos Chen)

Hathigaon (or elephant village) is an ongoing low-income housing project by RMA Architects designed to provide a suitable habitat for 100 working elephants and their keepers. The project is located on the foothills of the popular tourist destination of Amber Palace, near Jaipur, India, and sees land once devastated by sand quarrying once again reclaimed for use.  Read More

A sheet made up of the polymer opals

Some of the most vividly colored materials in nature, including things like butterfly wings, don’t obtain their color from pigment. Instead, their internal structure reflects light at a given wavelength, producing a specific color. Opals are another example of something that utilizes this effect. In collaboration with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability, scientists from the University of Cambridge have now copied the colorful nanostructure of the opal. The result is a flexible, colorful material that won’t fade over time, that changes color when stretched, and that could have many applications.  Read More

A newly-developed process gives gold mines an alternative to using cyanide for extracting ...

In the gold-mining process, the precious metal is often extracted from low-grade ore in a technique known as gold cyanidation. As its name suggests, the process utilizes highly-poisonous cyanide, some of which ends up entering the environment in the mines’ tailings. That’s not so good. Scientists at Illinois’ Northwestern University, however, recently announced their discovery of a new gold recovery process that’s based on a non-toxic component of corn starch.  Read More

Dead seaweed on a beach in the Spanish city of Alicante

When it’s alive and in the ocean, seaweed serves as a habitat, spawning ground and food source for marine life. Once it gets washed ashore, however, it pretty much just rots. Typically, along beaches in tourist areas, that dead seaweed is simply gathered and taken to a landfill. Now, however, researchers from Spain’s University of Alicante have conceived of a new seaweed-removal system that has less environmental impact, and that allows the seaweed to be used as an energy source.  Read More

The Hotchkiss School's new biomass building (Photo: Centerbrook)

A US school has cut a six-figure sum from its winter energy bill by replacing its oil-burning boiler with woodchip biomass ones. The switch has reduced the school's carbon footprint by between 35 and 45 percent. The boilers are housed in a brand new green-roofed building which has become only the third LEED-certified power facility in the US.  Read More

The new roof, re-named 'Foro Ciel,' is now home to some species of cacti and a few small o...

When Coca-Cola found itself with an unused helipad on top of its building in Mexico City, the simplest thing to do would have been to strip everything down, leaving a bare rooftop. But that would have been a waste of usable real estate, not to mention just plain dull. Instead, the company enlisted the help of design teams at Rojkind Arquitectos and AGENT to convert the area into a sustainable rooftop garden and customizable office space.  Read More

A New Norris House: perhaps the most modest building in the AIA's top ten (Photo: Ken McCo...

The American Institute of Architects announced its top ten green buildings in the US for 2013 on Monday (Earth Day, uncoincidentally). It's a diverse list, containing a cheese factory, senior citizens' apartments, school buildings, and a smattering of LEED certificates. There's only one net zero building on the list, though it's worth remembering that it's much easier to build a net zero home than it is a net zero office or factory. Step inside for a short profile of each of the buildings, or head straight to the gallery for the architectural eye candy.  Read More

One of six new Nissan LEAF taxis that will be serving New York City

Ever wonder if an electric car has what it takes to work as a taxi on the mean streets of New York City? Well, we’re about to find out. Nissan has donated six of its LEAFs to the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission for use in a one-year pilot project, in which they’ll serve as cabs in the Big Apple.  Read More

Some of Fraunhofer's printed thermoelectric generators, wrapped around a sample component

Thermoelectric materials, putting it simply, are able to generate electricity via differences in temperature. If thermoelectric felt were used to make a jacket, for instance, it could generate a current using the temperature gradient between the warm interior and cold exterior of the garment. Like many such promising technologies, however, the cost of thermoelectrics is something of an issue ... although thanks to a new process developed at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology, that might not be the case for much longer.  Read More

A family recently moved into a prototype Active House, which uses natural lighting and ven...

We've seen plenty of impressive net zero houses in the past, from the motion-controlled CHIP House in California to the budget-priced Sosoljip in South Korea. But one issue that seems predominant in most energy-neutral homes is that they typically take on a design that doesn't suit many suburban areas. That may soon change though with the first Active House, which uses natural lighting and ventilation to reduce its energy consumption while still blending in with the architecture of the surrounding neighborhood.  Read More

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