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July 13, 2014

Inhabitat’s Week in Green: translucent house shell, Prêt-à-Loger and a skyscraper made of waste

by John_A

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.

Self-driving cars are set to become a common sight on roads and highways around the world in the coming years, and Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, is taking the lead. The company recently announced plans to launch a self-driving semi truck on the market by 2025. In architecture news, this week a large lotus flower-shaped building sprouted in Wujin, China. The striking building is located in the middle of an artificial lake, and it is cooled with geothermal piles.

Chartier-Corbasson just unveiled plans for a massive skyscraper in London that would be made entirely from its residents’ waste. Meanwhile in Japan, the world’s largest indoor farm is up and running — and it uses low-energy LED lights to produce 10,000 heads of lettuce a day. Speaking of food, a rocket scientist just developed the saucepan of the future — and it cooks up meals 40 percent faster while saving energy.

The Solar Decathlon Europe, one of the world’s most exciting green architecture events, just wrapped up in France, where 20 student teams from around the world competed to produce the most efficient sun-powered homes. A team of Spanish students from Barcelona Tech and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya took the architecture award at this year’s contest for producing a house that’s wrapped in a translucent shell that harvests solar energy and rainwater. Team Mexico took the engineering prize for building the tiny, space-saving CASA home; the magnificent modular Solar Philéas project received top marks in energy efficiency; and the solar-skinned Prêt-à-Loger home took home the prize for sustainability. Walking away with this year’s grand prize was a jubilant Team RhOME! Their design utilized a traditional Italian loggia — an open, shaded gallery — to make the most of passive solar principles.

Last year, Toyota unveiled its innovative i-ROAD electric vehicle, a funky three-wheeler that is easy to maneuver and park. Now, Toyota is taking the i-ROAD to the streets as part of a new car-sharing program in France called “Smart City.” Electric vehicle entrepreneur Elon Musk made headlines by donating a whopping $1 million to fund the construction of a Nikola Tesla museum. And one of the biggest green transportation stories in the country isn’t a vehicle at all — it’s a building. San Francisco’s $1.9 billion Transbay Transit Center is currently under construction, and Inhabitat donned a hardhat and visited the construction site. The massive bus and train terminal will connect eight Bay Area counties, and it will be topped with a 5.4-acre rooftop park.

Are you worried that your kids are spending too much time hunched over a laptop or iPad? Aside from missing out on real-life experiences, there’s another serious risk: According to one chiropractor, many young children are developing a syndrome known as “iPosture” from spending too long hunched over electronic devices. In other tech news, Apple just raised the bar for renewable energy use by announcing plans to build its third enormous solar farm in North Carolina, and scientists at Princeton University have succeeded in creating super-efficient solar-powered fuel cells that convert carbon dioxide and water into energy-storing formic acid. Researchers at the University of Sydney’s robotics department have invented a solar-powered farm robot that can detect vegetables, trace out crops and even remove weeds with its robotic arms. Inhabitat also caught up with Boyan Slat, the 19-year-old who invented an array that he claims could remove 72.5 million tons of plastic from the world’s oceans. In the interview, Slat talks about both the support and the criticism his invention has received, and he gave us a status update on recent tests. And would you buy accessories made from human hair? If you answered, “Yes,” you’re in luck. The London-based design firm Studio Swine has produced a line of objects made from resin-embedded strands of dip-dyed human hair, and they’re surprisingly popular.

Filed under: Misc, Internet


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