The Most Efficient Building in the World

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Our Thursday green news brings you the latest on green architecture, climate change, energy and communities:

green architecture, Bullitt Center

Photo courtesy of the Bullitt Foundation

  • The most efficient building in the world: The Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation has recently turned its attention to another way of “saving the planet”-projects involving urban ecology, clean energy, and technology. Their first built project-the Bullitt Center-might be “the most efficient office building in the world, and likely the most efficient building in the world”, as the foundation’s CEO, Denis Hayes, stated. The building features a canopy of solar panels that generates all of the electricity used on site; a green roof seeded with micro-organisms that captures and cleans rainwater; giant floor-to-ceiling windows that open and close automatically to regulate the temperature; and a fleet of composting toilets in its basement. This efficient building was made possible by Seattle’s Deep Green Pilot Program, which allows builders to deviate from the standard codes in order to build more sustainably. For instance, the Bullitt building was permitted to add two to three feet to the height of each floor to allow for more sunlight to come in, reducing the need for electrical lighting and mechanical heating, explains Chris Rogers of company Point32, which managed the project.
  • Old laptop batteries could be providing power in the developing world: According to the EPA estimates, about 50 million laptop and desktop computers are discarded each year in the United States alone. Now a new project by IBM Research India could not only help re-purpose old laptop batteries-a major source of  e-waste, but also help millions of people power their homes in areas with limited access to electricity. For example, in India alone, there are about 400 million people who lack connection to electricity. The IBM project aims to use salvaged laptop batteries to power LED lights in developing nations, such as India. As Vikas Chandan, a research scientist at the lab’s Smarter Energy Group, explains: “The most costly component in these systems is often the battery. In this case, the most expensive part of your storage solution is coming from trash.” The research group took discarded laptop batteries, disassembled them to remove the individual storage cells and reassembled them into a battery pack with just the good cells. Some circuitry and charging dongles were added and then these kits were provided to Indian slum residents who were in need of lighting.
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