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Month: October 2015

How Can You Open Source Building Your House?

How Can You Open Source Building Your House?

Instead of architects creating buildings only for those who can afford to commission them, what if regular citizens could design and build their own houses? Designer Alastair Parvin says it’s possible.

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A US state just became the world’s greatest renewable-energy market

A US state just became the world’s greatest renewable-energy market

Renewable energy developers, take note. There’s a new spot on Earth leading the way for projects in solar, wind, and other sources of green power. California. That’s because of a new bill, signed into law late last week in the state, mandating a massive buildout in renewable power capacity, in a very short time frame. The bill, S.B. 350, calls for California’s utilities to move toward acquiring 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. And the state’s power generators will have to work quickly — they’re required to achieve this renewables goal by 2030.

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Converting your house to solar is now cheaper than a new car

Converting your house to solar is now cheaper than a new car

Ten years ago, about $43,000 could cover your home’s rooftop in solar panels. Today the average gross cost is about $29,000 and the efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity has nearly doubled in that time. This effectively makes the cost of an efficient solar roof lower than the average price of a new car in the US, which is now $33,560, according to Kelley Blue Book. What’s more, this price tag doesn’t account for renewable energy tax credits and other government incentives, so the cost is likely even lower. This number comes from the EnergySage Solar Marketplace Intel Report, which…

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Airbnb selects most Star Wars-inspired properties

Airbnb selects most Star Wars-inspired properties

From an off-grid earthship carved into the desert of New Mexico to circular pods in Thailand and earth domes in California reminiscent of the planet Tatooine, Airbnb has collected Star Wars-inspired properties across its network that are located in a galaxy that's actually not so far away. Like the modest, dust-topped homes of Tatooine, the selection of properties isn't glamorous, with the exception of a Swiss ski chalet. But they're perhaps as otherworldly as it can get on planet Earth with many of the lodgings set in natural surroundings so that guests can sleep directly under the stars. As you…

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Earthship Philadelphia Meeting @ Temple University Nov. 12

Earthship Philadelphia Meeting @ Temple University Nov. 12

Earthship Philadelphia Organizing Meeting Temple University, Andersen Hall 14, Philadelphia, PA. November 12, 2015, 6pm – 8pm. Materials List Break out list, determine how to harvest locally, donate, in-kind, sponsors for the rest. Project Time Line Where are we at now? Where have we been? Where are we going? and When are we going to get there? Design Changes Adapting the Earthship Concept to the city. Break out into groups Get involved, help make the project happen: labor, fundraising, materials, outreach, etc. Anderson Hall 14: Temple University: 1857 N Marvine St, Philadelphia. 6pm – 8pm, November 12, 2015

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Update: How to Buy A Vacant Side Yard For $1 (Or Less)

Update: How to Buy A Vacant Side Yard For $1 (Or Less)

Last month, the Philadelphia Land Bank solicited its first request for proposals from developers to acquire and develop 17 contiguous parcels along the 1600 block of North Bodine Street. This RFP marked the first step in putting thousands of Philadelphia’s 40,000 vacant, underused, blighted, delinquent properties to new uses through the municipal land bank. But many wonder: will the Land Bank will really work, in real life? In Philly? The New York Times wrote: “critics are concerned about a provision in the ordinance creating the Philadelphia Land Bank that requires City Council approval for all sales, saying that could delay…

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Thermal Mass Walls

Thermal Mass Walls

These walls systems are all solid walls made out of dense materials, of which the modern Brick, Block and poured concrete walls are the most common variety. Since these common variants are all have very low R-values, a fairly high embodied energy, and are familiar to most people, this discussion is about alternatives to those. The common components of these wall are an aggregate of some sort (sand and possible stone), and a binder of some sort (Portland cement, Clay or a combination). In some of the wall systems, some of the aggregate is replaced with straw which gives the…

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Creator Of 5-hour Energy Wants To Power the World's Homes – With Bikes

Creator Of 5-hour Energy Wants To Power the World's Homes – With Bikes

Create clean technology: that's Manoj Bargahva's mantra. He's the mind behind the small 5-Hour Energy drink bottle you see sold in stores on almost every corner. Worth around $4 billion dollars, Bargahva has pledged to use 90% of that money to serve others around the globe. He feels a certain responsibility to invent and invest in products and technology which will help poorer people (particularly those still living in unindustrialized communities) achieve a decent quality of life. Manoj sees this starting with having power and water.

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7 Building Code Violations You Should Definitely Avoid

7 Building Code Violations You Should Definitely Avoid

You’re off and running with your DIY project, looking to become a home improvement hero and saving some cash in the process. Sure, you may know your way around power tools, but you could be the dumbest guy in the neighborhood. The trap? Building codes, those rules and regulations that govern everything from lumber spans to the clearance in front of a toilet. If you don’t comply with building codes, you may be on the hook for fines and an expensive tear-out and redo of your project. Heck, you say. Nobody is going to notice a little bathroom renovation going…

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One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

You'd be surprised at the amount of things you can buy -at no more than one-third of the price- from someone else to whom it may be quite useless. The Colombo Flea Market is a space where people buy and sell secondhand stuff so that, by doing so, they reduce wastage. Items ranging from cloths, books, CDs, kitchen utensils, jewelry and accessories, electronic equipment and many other curios are laid out in a vibrant spread that reel in inquisitive wanderers. When it comes to any consumer product, the idea is to reduce waste and by purchasing an item that is…

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