Bike lights powered by your clothes? Phones charging in your pockets?
Researchers at MIT have figured out how to print photovoltaic cells on every-day materials like paper or fabric — and the process is practically the same is printing this article out on your desk printer.MIT reports that a team of researchers has published a new paper in the journal Advanced Materials detailing how solar cells can be printed as easily and as cheaply as “printing a photo on your inkjet” thanks to new special inks.
via Solar Cells Can Now Be Printed on Anything, Even Paper and Fabric : TreeHugger.
At a loose end and want to do some good? How about a spot of gardening…
As part of D-AiRs residency at Tayside Foundation for the Conservation of Resources (TFCR), and in collaboration with Dundee West Transition Group, Dundee Artists in Residence have been working towards the development of an urban growing space. This is now ready to be established in the form of a Low Carbon Garden. But to get things up and running – and we dont just mean the beans – we need plenty of participants!So, if youd like to get your hands dirty whilst learning more about low carbon gardening – from preparing the site and constructing raised beds, to planting, weeding and harvesting your favourite vegetables – wed love to hear from you.Tea, coffee and gardening tools will be provided.Enthusiasm, sensible footwear, and, if you have a pair, some gardening gloves, are all you need to bring.If youd like more details please send D-AiR an email. Alternatively, just turn up and lend a hand.
Where: Tayside Recyclers, Units 1 & 2 South Dudhope Mill, Douglas Street, Dundee, DD1 5AN.
When: Friday’s – Feb 11th, 18th, 25th, March 4th, 11th, 18th – from 11am – 5pm. (Phase one.)
via Beginning 11/2/11 – Urban Growing Space |.
Here’s something I didn’t know existed – until now! Dundee is host to a demonstration house which makes use of sustainable technologies that can be fitted to any home.
The house is open to the public and used to be the janitor’s house at a local primary school.
Well worth a visit to see how design and technology are contributing to the fight against global warming and massive bills!
More info from the Solar Cities Scotland site.
Solar Cities Scotland in partnership with Dundee City Council and energy efficiency agency SCARF has developed a demonstration house in the Whitfield area of Dundee. The Sun City House provides a focus for demonstration, education, advice and information about domestic scale renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable construction to households and the general public in Dundee and throughout central and north east Scotland.
Unlike most “eco-house” type demonstration projects, the Sun City House is not new build, but a major refurbishment and remodelling of a poorly constructed and thermally inefficient janitors house built in the 1960s.
It aims to showcase technologies, materials and methods of construction that can be retrofitted to existing housing stock, where the major challenge lies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the domestic sector in the UK. It acts as a shop window to offer ideas to everyone, on every income, to help them reduce their home’s impact on the environment, be it low energy lighting, a solar water heating system or a sun space extension.
Funding for the Sun City House has come from Dundee City Council, Sust, and the DTI through the University of Strathclyde. The project would not be possible however without the overwhelming support from the private sector through donations of goods and services that has been received.
The Sun City House has been open to the public since November 2008 and since then has attracted over 1000 visitors. SCARF’s Energy Saving Scotland Advice Centre Staff are the tenants of the Sun City House. They provide guided tours as well as impartial advice and information for householders on how to do this at home.
A new book has just been released which might appeal to those interested in sustainable design, and sustainable fashion and textiles in particular.
According to the book’s blurb:
The production, use and eventual disposal of most clothing is environmentally damaging, and many fashion and textile designers are becoming keen to employ more sustainable strategies in their work. This book provides a practical guide to the ways in which designers are creating fashion with less waste and greater durability.
Based on the results of extensive research into lifecycle approaches to sustainable fashion, the book is divided into four sections:
- Source explores the motivations for the selection of materials for fashion garments and suggests that garments can be made from materials that also assist in the management of textile waste.
- Make discusses the differing approaches to the design and manufacture of sustainable fashion garments that can also provide the opportunity for waste control and minimization.
- Use explores schemes that encourage the consumer to engage in slow fashion consumption.
- Last examines alternative solutions to the predictable fate of most garments – landfill.
Illustrated throughout with case studies of best practice from international designers and fashion labels and written in a practical, accessible style, this is a must-have guide for fashion and textile designers and students in their areas.
Buy it from Amazon.co.uk – we’ve also asked the DJCAD library to get a copy.
News of a one day free conference on sustainability at the University of Dundee, run by students:
The Dundee Student Sustainability Showcase and Conference (DS3C) is an Enterprise Gym event designed to display and introduce key speakers and projects on Sustainability.
Rather than focussing purely on the “green” side of Sustainability, the Conference aims to impart knowledge of how to keep business sustainable, and in turn equipping students with a toolkit of knowledge to engage businesses as “sustainability aware” graduates. This year’s theme is “Sustaining Life”.
DS3C is the only student run conference on Sustainability in Scotland, the best part is…our event is free! DS3C is part of the Enterprise Gym’s programme of events designed to encourage entreprenerialism and innovative business creation. This is of key importance now, not only becausee of the global recession, climate change – but because of high unemployment which will inevitibly increase in years to come.
DS3C is sponsored by our business patrons who directly advise our students and provide them with “real-life” practical business skills and advice.
For more information and to book your free place, visit DS3C’s website
Photograph: Tracy McVeigh
A report in The Observer highlights the environmental cost of our taste for timber. The emphasis is mine. Read the whole article, it’s cause for thought among designers who think wood is a more “sustainable” material than others, but don’t think to examine where it comes from.
The cows are afloat, with squawking chickens sharing their sturdy bamboo rafts. [...] Everything that floats is lashed to everything that doesn’t.
The monsoon rains are not due for a month or so, but the “dry” season for people in West Kalimantan province in Indonesian Borneo has been marked by three months of unrelenting floods.
Indonesia has one of the world’s largest areas of remaining forest but also one of the highest deforestation rates, ranking only behind Brazil. The vast green rainforest carpet has become a patchwork with more than half of Borneo’s tree cover and peat swamps – which absorb much of the planet’s carbon excesses – already gone after a decade’s “goldrush” of uncontrolled timber logging that was at last partially curtailed in 2006.
But now the rest is being pillaged by palm oil and pulpwood plantations and networks of illegal loggers[...].
The timber from its rare 100- to 200- year-old diptocarp trees, each one the home of hundreds of insects, is eagerly snapped up, keeping consumers and the construction industry in the UK and elsewhere in tables, patio chairs, trinket boxes, doors and plywood. When consumers buy paper, furniture or even charcoal on the British high street there is an estimated more than 80% chance they are buying into this destruction.
via The Observer.
On 9 October I was privileged to give a talk to staff, students and a host of practicing designers and visiting academics at Savannah College of Art and Design, as part of the first Design Ethos conference.
My talk looked at the design responses to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that devestated parts of the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year, and in particular the way the graphic design community “came together”.
As the talk is highly personal and (intentionally) controversial, I’ve posted it on my own web site rather than here. Feel free to wander over and have a read, and maybe add your own thoughts via the comments facility.
When you approach the Deep Water situation from a design thinking perspective you begin to look at problems differently.
You can debate all you want about whether it should be possible to switch off an alarm, and there’s understandable disbelief at the explanation given by Transco about why the alarm was switched off a year before the accident. But a design thinking approach to the problem would ask you to empathize with the people who work on the rigs – hardly an easy or relaxing job. Understanding that the risk of an accident due to mechanical failure was nothing compared with the risk of an accident caused by lack of sleep will help you to understand the real problem (the stresses of the workplace) rather than adopt a sticking plaster solution to another problem entirely. My immediate response to this is that the alarm shouldn’t have been something that woke people up, but something that was seen by whoever was awake, and someone on shore so they could make sure the person on watch had seen it and dealt with it.
Read the rest at The Least We Can Do.
Gadget manufacturer Belkin have released the Conserve Insight, a device that sits between your appliances and the electricity supply to show you how much power they use, and how much it’s costing you. The idea is that you get a very visible notification of how much it costs to operate your TV (even in standby), your fluorescent bulbs (if you still have any) and your computer.
Find out how much energy your devices really use—including, the cost of operation, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO₂) produced in generating the electricity consumed, and watts. See at a glance the true impact to your wallet—and the environment.
A project carried out in the north of England as part of the DOTT 07 scheme showed that when people have a very visible indication of how much power they’re using, in pounds and pence rather than watts, they will start to turn things off. The Home Energy Dashboard was the result
This product from Belkin seems like a good commercial implementation of that idea, one device at a time, and without waiting for the energy companies or government to get their act together. Maybe this device could save a lot more than its own cost in energy conservation.
While we were all looking at the oil spill of the USA, another one happened in China. Take a look at these images
The other side of design?
Oil spill in Dalian, China – The Big Picture – Boston.com.
A British solar-powered plane lands after two weeks in the air. Pretty impressive.
It’s a shame the “obvious” uses are military. Maybe there are some more immediate benefits to society?
The UK-built Zephyr unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has confirmed its place in aviation history as the first “eternal plane”.
The solar-powered craft completed two weeks of non-stop flight above a US Army range in Arizona before being commanded to make a landing.
The Zephyr flight is the second event of note this year in solar-powered aviation. Earlier this month, Andre Borschberg became the first person to pilot a manned solar plane through the night.
via BBC News – ‘Eternal plane’ returns to Earth.