Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Environmentally-friendly

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

Washed up dead seaweed known as Neptune balls is being converted into building insulation ...

If you live near the Mediterranean Sea, you might be familiar with little balls of seaweed that regularly wash up on the beach. These come from the Posidonia oceanica plant (better known as Neptune grass), and are generally thought of as a nuisance. Now, however, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology is involved in a project that’s converting the little balls into high-quality building insulation.  Read More

The Tricycle House opens like an accordion to offer more space

The idea of living life on the road in an RV can be appealing. Unfortunately, most RV’s aren’t very environmentally friendly, nor are they self-sufficient. However, the Tricycle House isn’t like most RV’s, as it relies on pedal power to move between destinations, and boasts several pieces of clever folding furniture to provide those much-needed home comforts.  Read More

French Architecture Studio AtelierD has designed a pavilion for both bees and humans (Phot...

Bees are having a tough time at the moment, and it’s largely down to their relationship with us humans. Not only are they combating pollutants affecting the quality and color of their honey, but studies are also linking pesticide use to what is known as Colony Collapse Disorder. French architecture studio AtelierD has designed a pavilion for both bees and humans alike, that whimsically hopes to redress the delicate balance between the two species.  Read More

The MOVEO folding electric scooter

When you hear the term “folding electric scooter,” you likely think of a stand-up scooter along the lines of the Zümaround or the MyWay Compact. At best, you might picture something with a bicycle-style saddle and seatpost, such as the Voltitude. MOVEO, however, features a full traditional seat that’s mounted directly on the chassis. Although the scooter isn’t in production yet, it hopefully will be by next year.  Read More

The Short Circuit appliances should be available for purchase later this year

In recent years, repairing and upgrading electronics has largely given way to a trend of disposable gadgets which fill up landfills – especially with regard to home appliances like coffee makers and toasters. However, French designer Gaspard Tiné-Berès proposes to repair and re-use discarded and damaged appliances, with readily available reclaimed materials providing the necessary components, and the bodies constructed from cork.  Read More

Scientists are developing eco-friendly composite materials containing peat fiber and beet ...

What do hemp, mushrooms, milk and straw have in common? They’re just a few of the things that have been used to create “green” composite materials, in which most or all of the usual petroleum by-products are replaced by more environmentally-friendly substances. Now, thanks to two separate studies, it looks like peat and beets can be added to that list.  Read More

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