Friday, October 5, 2007

I liked it when it was called a camper...

It's happened more than once...

You're sitting at an Ohio State tailgate, a beer deep for every hour after midnight, and you think to yourself, "I could really go for a power nap right now."

I present to you the Travelodge Travelpod [Version 2.0]!

These glass shipping container-like boxes can be rented like regular hotel rooms and travel virtually anywhere! The initial trials were carried out last summer, but now they've added 40% more space and all kinds of crazy new Travelpod amenities.

From their website:

Travelodge has produced the ultimate accessory for lovers of outdoor entertainment. Forget waterlogged tents - now you can have for the first time, a mobile bedroom or 'Travelpod' to make even the fussiest festival-goer feel at home.

The room comes complete with:
- Air conditioning
- Heater
- Flat screen TV
- DVD player with a collection of DVDs
- Ambient lighting which includes bedside lights and a illuminated headboard
- Tea / coffee making facilities
- Washroom with biodegradable toilet and washbasin with running water facilities

In addition, the furnishings are made from recyclable timber and lighting has been designed to use low wattage bulbs. The room comes complete with a luxury double bed, bedside lights, duvet, pillows, fully carpeted floor, window blinds, dressing table with light, mirror and chair.

The palatial pod is sealed in a 6 metre (length) by 2.4 metre (width) x 2.6 metre (height) clear polycarbonate glass box but inside, the features replicate the conventional Travelodge hotel room just recently re-designed.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Let's hope for a trickle down...

A huge verdict has been won in Vermont with major implications on the rest of the country. No, it doesn't involve Adam and Steve...

The Law Offices of Mathew F. Pawa, the representative firm of the state of Vermont, have won a major environmental case against Green Mountan Dealers, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, DaimlerChrysler, and General Motors. In the fall of 2005 the state of Vermont passed new regulations that establish greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions standards for new
automobiles (similar to that of California). The aforementioned motormen filed a complaint seeking relief from this law...and lost!

It's amusing they would bring such a suit, given their commitment to Environmental Stewardship:

GM's Environmental Responsibility
DaimlerChrysler's Sustainability Initiatives

For complete press coverage, check out these press releases from Pawa:

The New York Times
Christian Science Monitor
The Wall Street Journal
The Jurist

Other intertube coverage can be found here:

Google News
World War 4 Report
CNS News

Eco-Justice Blog
Top Yeti Gadget XR (great breakdown of the story)

Congratulations to Mr. Pawa and the rest of their firm. I wish them continued good luck in their future endeavors.

Daddy never spanked us...

Partisan leanings notwithstanding, if you consider yourself to be any kind of environmentalist, you can not be happy with our current administration. Likewise the same can be said about the previous administration and their refusal of Kyoto. Moreover, the administrations prior to Clinton and their lack of prosecution for industrial polluters. And so on, and so on, and so on....

America's denial of the environment is a literal speed bump that impedes the correction of our problematic majority share in the environment (whew), and you know what? It's not a result of your party affiliation, but because you're the owner of the party.

Like it or not, these politicians/administration/agency/policy are yours.

I never really thought about it until I saw this headline: Bush's EPA Is Pursuing Fewer Polluters. While Bush might, in fact, be Commander in Chief, it needs to be said that he has tenure, not ownership! And while I understand these branches of the governmental tree are ultimately superintended under his supervision and guidance (and the headline did not actually intend to show ownership) I can't help but put that story's blame on us.

Under a democracy, the fault lies with the voter. Even after the votes have been cast, we are still in charge. When did this mountable fact go by the wayside?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s words to Western Illinois University could have been true under Bush, Clinton, Bush and Reagan. So what the hell are we doing, what the hell have we done, what the hell are we going to do?

If Obama is elected to office, will we hold his feet to the flame if he doesn't come through with his promise to comprehensively study climate change and its impact on low-income communities? If future president John McCain does not protect the clean air, safe and healthy water, sustainable land use, ample greenspace he claims to ensure, will we hold him responsible? If our fearless leader in chief Hillary fails to create a (successful) $50 billion Strategic Energy Fund for research and development, do we call for her resignation? If Rudy is elected, will we fight to oust him from office for his failure to even recognize the environment as issue?

Now is the time to jump.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Huge pipes with big laser beams on their heads...

Off we go into the cold blue/warm red yonder...

I am a big proponent of grandiose scheming when it comes to green design, but I'm filled with trepidation when it comes to the screwing-with of Mother Nature's methods. She's existed this long for good reason, and throwing a stick into the spokes to get the bicycle to stop speeding down the environmental hill might not be the best method to slow down global warming.

BldgBlog has yet another interesting post, this one concentrating on James Lovelock's grandiose scheme to line the ocean with a bazillion vertical pipes in order to pump nutrient-rich seawater from the depths of the seafloor to the surface. He posits that the pipes would spur algaeic (my word) growth, thus spurring the "natural" consumption of carbon dioxide.

The concept of deep water exploitation is not a new one. Since 2004, the city of Toronto has been utilizing a 5 km long pipe to draw cold water from the depths of Lake Ontario and distribute it to office towers for air conditioning, Cornell University employs a similar program from Lake Cayuga, Stockholm uses deep sea waters for air conditioning, and Honolulu is debating doing the same.

Additionally, many geothermal pockets in the earth are being tapped in the US to heat and cool buildings. Las Vegas, in their infinite hotness, is desperately scurrying under their gambling tables for a viable source of cool earth.

Similarly, China has gone batty over geothermal exploration:

Last year alone, China added 102 gigawatts to its electrical grid--roughly twice the total capacity of California's--and about 90% of that came from carbon-belching coal plants... The China Energy Research Society expects 110 gigawatt hours (GWh) to be produced through geothermal power nationally by 2010, out of 2.7 million GWh in total.

Take Steven Holl's Linked Hybrid in Bejing, a community of buildings that employs 45 bajillion (my estimation...I think it's actually around 600) geothermal wells beneath its span.

While the majority of this award-winning design rests on firmly-grounded pillars, one must wonder what effect it has on the supporting ground mass to, in essence, dispose of half of that ground's strength by drilling well after well, side-by-side.

You must admit, those green roofs make you drool a little bit.

Given the building's weight, their must be some reduction in foundation integrity. Keep in mind, of course, that I have ZERO education and/or knowledge in architecture and engineering. I just like to ask questions :)

To get a firm understanding on the "hybrid" aspect of this project and its innovations linking building to building, watch this video (they start talking about the building about 3:00 into it):

While the reduced energy usage resulted from this practice is being lauded as the next big elucidation in eco-friendly heating and cooling, one must ask if we're not, in fact, warming the earth in areas we have never warmed before? Fortunately, most proposed installations are now carrying out environmental impact studies prior to their installation, but as we all know with green design/ideas/hypotheses, the trend usually precedes the technology.

My question is this:

If you're pulling cold air from the earth or sea, what takes its place? Are we not warming one area and compromising another?

Not to mention, you might cause an earthquake or two.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Skipper, toooooo....

Gilligan, Chuck Knowland, Richard, Dawson...just think how many island desertees could have been saved with a solar vending machine!

Unfortunately, they don't take Australian money. Why? Because it isn't green!

That one goes out to my Dad, inventor of the really, really bad joke.

Anyway, is it overly trendy on its green applications? Yes, but the idea is a good start.

Vending machines are essentially Sub Zero refrigerators on steroids, sucking a constant stream of energy from your from your breakrooms (or as pictured, your dream office on the coast of Spain).

My firm will usually try to step around this problem by powering down our snack-filled vending machines, but have no ability to do so with our frozen and refrigerated machines for obvious reasons (although Spring lightning storms will sometimes choose to do so on their own).

Hopefully we'll see more alternative power sources for seldom-used machines.

From their website:

Location has always been the key to selling products, this machine has no restriction. Wherever the customers, the machine can be placed, static or mobile. It has its own internal supply of DC energy. Should power cuts occur, it will carry on operating when conventional machine stop. No matter if the skies are grey, rain or even at night, 365 days a year.