Thermal Mass & Energy Efficient Design: How Much is Enough? by guest author, Ashley Lubyk Thermal Mass Defined When it comes to building an energy efficient home the discussion often rests on how much insulation should be in the walls, in the ceiling, under the slab, etc. But as I’ve written about before, energy efficiency is about more than just R-values. A house also benefits from having well placed windows balanced with a calculated amount of thermal mass to passively supply heating and cooling requirements.
Earth 911 - Recycled Bicycle Machines Bicycle recycling is nothing new. But a Guatemalan nonprofit is turning trashed bicycle parts into innovative, electricity-free machines that you have to see to believe. Based in San Andrés Itzapa, Guatemala, Maya Pedal Asociación accepts donated bikes from the U.S. and Canada, which volunteers either recondition to sell or break down to create a range of pedal-powered machines called Bicimáquinas. Bet You’ll Love: VIDEO: Soda Bottles Upcycled into Solar Light Bulbs Growing and Rediscovering Hedgerows By Carol Ekarius Hedgerows have long played an important role in agriculture. Since Bronze Age people first used them to divide fields, mark property boundaries and control livestock in Europe more than 5,000 years ago, farmers around the world have appreciated the benefits hedgerows provide. Unfortunately, many hedgerows (some of them centuries old) were destroyed over the last 50 years both abroad and in the United States as agriculture moved into the Industrial Age. But in the United States today, Eastern farmers who have historic hedgerows are becoming interested in revitalizing them, and farmers in the West, a place without a real hedgerow tradition, are leading the hedgerow renaissance with new plantings. Grower’s curiosity and willingness to invest in hedgerows is being spurred on by research and by on-farm examples that show the myriad benefits, ranging from acoustic buffering to wildlife corridors.
Kickstarter - Pedal Power Our site: www.pedal-power.com The bicycle is one of the most ubiquitous and indispensable technologies ever developed. It is efficient, elegant, environmentally friendly, fun, healthy, inexpensive, and user-maintainable. It is a human scale means of travel that increases our range and speed ten-fold — yet we only use its core technology for transportation even though it is suitable for performing a multitude of tasks.
How to get rid of wasps naturally In my last post, I shared two reasons you may want to leave a wasp nest up in your yard or garden. However, there are a variety of reasons you may not want to do that, For us, our small backyard means that any wasp nest is easily disturbed — making for angry wasps, which can lead to stings. You should first figure out if you have honeybees, or a type of wasp or yellow jacket in your yard (you can use this helpful tutorial to figure out what you are dealing with). If you do find that you have honeybees, and they are not in a location that is safe for you (or them), you can try to call local beekeepers who may even remove them for free or for a small fee. Since our bee populations are in an alarming decline, doing what we can to protect them is a high priority. (Related post: 25,000 bees found dead in Oregon; pesticide suspected)
Brilliant WarkaWater Towers Collect Drinking Water from Thin Air in Ethiopia Italian designer Arturo Vittori has unveiled the WarkaWater Tower, a revoluntionary new way to collect clean drinking water in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa. The artist was inspired by a recent trip to a remote village in northeastern Ethiopia where water collection is often a dangerous and incredibly time-consuming process. With just a little financial backing, Vittori hopes the innovative WarkaWater Towers, which take advantage of condensation, will provide a more reliable, efficient and sustainable method of water harvesting for local women and their families. Throughout many remote villages in Ethiopia, water gathering is quite an ardous and dangerous task. With the burden typically falling on matriarchs of the family, the trip to the nearest water source can take hours if not all day. More often than not, that water fetched on these long journeys is commonly contaminated with dangerous elements such as human and animal waste.
Hand-Powered Blood Centrifuge Here’s how to build a whirligig: Thread a loop of twine through two holes in a button. Grab the loop ends, then rhythmically pull. As the twine coils and uncoils, the button spins at a dizzying speed. Go to the web site to view the video. Video by Kurt Hickman Solar-powered Fontus pulls water from the air while you ride your bike Kristof Retezár has designed a clever way for cyclists to stay hydrated while they ride. Thanks to Fontus, a new device that pulls water from the air, we may never have to worry about refills ever again. The solar-powered device harvests water using a Peltier Element – a two-chambered cooler designed to encourage condensation. As air moves through the upper chamber, it is slowed by several barriers. The decrease in airflow speed allows for the release of water molecules, which are pulled from the air and then stored in a bottle for the cyclist’s consumption. It is essential, for good times and good health, that cyclists stay hydrated while enjoying the mid-summer weather.
Pedal powered water pumps, threshers, blenders, tile makers and more What Are Bicimáquinas? Bicimáquinas are pedal-powered machines that assist with a variety of jobs in the home, on the farm, on the road and in small businesses. Each bicimáquina is handmade in our workshop using a combination of old bikes, concrete, wood, and metal. So far, we have developed several original designs that have proven to be both functional and economical. We have produced fact sheets and instructions for the more popular designs.
Preparing Your Homestead for Winter - From the Ground Up Blog Although it’s hard to believe right now, winter will be here before you know it. There’s a lot to do to prepare your homestead for winter, and you don’t want to be caught off-guard by a freak snowstorm or early frost. Stay organized with this helpful, month-by-month planner, and you can be sure that your livestock, harvest and machinery will be safe and snug for the winter.
optical rectenna turns light directly into usable electricity Light may be the most abundant resource on Earth and now it can be used to create electricity. The world’s first optical rectenna, part antenna and part rectifier diode, was developed by researchers at Georgia Tech to capture light and turn it directly into DC current. Wildly simplifying the generation of electricity, this crafty little device could really become a game changer in the field of renewable energy. Other forms of renewable energy – like solar and wind – require a rather involved, multi-step process before usable energy is available. The rectenna converts light directly to DC current, without the need for cooling, and could also be used to create electricity from waste heat. The device is composed of tiny carbon nanotubes and rectifiers that capture light, which doesn’t have to be from the sun.
Cleaner, More Efficient Method of Creating Biofuel If ever you feel slightly pessimistic about the future, remember that there are brilliant young people out there who are willing to take charge and develop solutions to the world’s great challenges. 16 year-old Evie Sobczak from St. Petersburg, Florida has engineered a new method of turning algae into biofuel. She determined a novel and more efficient way to grow the organisms, extract oil, and use the product as biodiesel.
Publications - WATER institute rainwater systems To achieve both behavioral and systemic change, the WATER Institute has cultivated strategic partnerships with community-based organizations, agencies and centers of governance in both the rural and the urban areas of Northern California. The following publications are a product of these collaborative efforts. Habitat Enhancement in the Salmon Creek Estuary The purpose of the Salmon Creek Estuary Habitat Structures Project is to improve habitat in the lower Salmon Creek estuary through installation of large wood structures and floating willow rafts. The instream habitat structures will provide refuge areas for salmonids and other aquatic species during high flows and cover from predation during low flow periods.