Economical tax savings from ecological home improvements
Use Energy Saver's reference list below to see if you are eligible for qualifying credits when filing IRS Tax Form 5695 with your taxes. Bonus points for having your receipts and manufacturer's certification statement on hand! Home Efficiency Improvements
First-time claimers of the Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit can get as much as $500 back for qualifying installations in 2016. Follow the links below to review specific requirements for each product. Remember that to claim the credit, all products must have been placed in service by December 31, 2016.
Building Envelope Improvements
Heating, Cooling and Water-Heating Equipment
Home Renewable Energy Systems
Thanks to the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, you can get a tax credit of 30 percent for the cost of adding these renewable energy technologies to your house:
Material can turn sunlight, heat and movement Into electricity -- all at once
Extracting energy from multiple sources could help power wearable technology.
A perovskite solid-solution that exhibits tunable bandgaps in the visible light energy range is showing promising material for light absorption and conversion applications,(solar energy harvesting and light sensing).
Such a common ABO3–type perovskite structure, most widely used for ferroelectrics and piezoelectrics, enables the same solid-solution material to be used for the simultaneous harvesting or sensing of solar, kinetic, and thermal energies.
These results are considered to be a significant improvement compared to those of other compositions which could be used for the same applications. The results pave the way for the development of hybrid energy harvesters/sensors, which can convert multiple energy sources into electrical energy simultaneously in the same material.
Biofuel-producing algae can now be farmed 10x faster than before
New process moderates temperature of grow environment
When the microalgae is first seeded, it’s kept at 15 degrees celsius, which makes it a solution. When it’s heated by just 7 degrees, it becomes a gelatinous mixture in which microalgae grows in clusters 10x larger than in the regular medium. Finally, it’s cooled again for harvesting, at which point it turns back into a solution, which can be separated using gravity.
See also: the study put out by Syracuse University
Reclaimed concrete a house does make
Cement that generates Light
Carlos Rubio Ávalos of the UMSNH of Morelia, developed a cement with the capacity to absorb and irradiate light energy,
The researcher claimed that the applications are very broad, and those which stand out most are for the architectural market: facades, swimming pools, bathrooms, kitchens, parking lots, etc. It would also be useful in road safety and road signs, in the energy sector, such as oil platforms, and anywhere you want to illuminate or mark spaces that don’t have access to electricity since it doesn’t require an electrical distribution system and is recharged only with light. The durability of light-emitting cement is estimated to be greater than 100 years thanks to its inorganic nature, and its material components are easily recyclable.
Maybe it takes a forest to raise a tree
"Why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old. To get to this point, the community must remain intact no matter what. If every tree were looking out only for itself, then quite a few of them would never reach old age. Regular fatalities would result in many large gaps in the tree canopy, which would make it easier for storms to get inside the forest and uproot more trees. The heat of summer would reach the forest floor and dry it out. Every tree would suffer.
Every tree, therefore, is valuable to the community and worth keeping around for as long as possible."
Fungus (like mushrooms) can be used in soils to feed on and clean up toxic chemicals / various neurotoxins.
From a press release by the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research:
Because there is often a lot of traffic on the 'fungal highway’, the bacteria may come into close contact with one another, exchanging genetic material in the process. "It’s similar to the transmission of cold germs on a packed train," explains environmental microbiologist Dr. Lukas Y. Wick. "But unlike a cold, the new genes are usually an asset to the soil bacteria. They enable them to adapt better to different environmental conditions." Depending on the genes they receive through horizontal gene transfer, they may be able to adapt to new environmental conditions or access food sources which they were previously unable to exploit. For example, this might include the pollutants toluene or benzene contained in oil and gasoline, which to bacteria with the right genetic makeup are not only not harmful but actually very tasty food. So the passing on of this ability to other bacterial groups can be very advantageous in terms of the degradation of soil pollutants.
Image courtesy of: http://www.fungi.com/blog/items/the-petroleum-problem.html
Nanotechnology scientists are working on a sodium-oxygen, seawater battery
a promising alternative to Lithium
Research into battery improvements has traditionally focused on Lithium as a necessary component. As a 2015 Nature report states:
"... Rechargeable metal–oxygen batteries are very attractive owing to their reliance on molecular oxygen, which forms oxides on discharge that decompose reversibly on charge. Much focus has been directed at aprotic Li–O2 cells, but the aprotic Na–O2 system is of equal interest because of its better reversibility."
Indeed, the other problem with Lithium is that as a rare earth element, it can be increasingly expensive. It also has a relatively small window when it comes to operational safety.
Which brings us to nanotechnology-based options that use seawater as the catholyte — where "catholyte" is a fancy way of saying an cathode + electrolyte combined.
From a recent release of the ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces publication:
"In batteries, the electrolyte is the component that allows an electrical charge to flow between the cathode and anode. A constant flow of seawater into and out of the battery provides the sodium ions and water responsible for producing a charge. The reactions have been sluggish, however, so the researchers wanted to find a way to speed them up."
And the scientists briefly summarize their method:
"We applied porous cobalt manganese oxide (CMO) nanocubes as the cathode electrocatalyst in rechargeable seawater batteries, which are a hybrid-type Na–air battery with an open-structured cathode and a seawater catholyte. The porous CMO nanocubes were synthesized by the pyrolysis of a Prussian blue analogue, Mn3[Co(CN)6]2·nH2O, during air-annealing, which generated numerous pores between the final spinel-type CMO nanoparticles. The porous CMO electrocatalyst improved the redox reactions, such as the oxygen evolution/reduction reactions, at the cathode in the seawater batteries. "
This is a recycled house.
Look at what you can do when you deconstruct and reconstruct.
Intended to inspire home owners and designers to think outside the box, this LEED Platinum home is a deconstruction and reconstruction of an existing house, with ''80% of its materials being recycled/reused''.
Eco-sustainable features include geothermal and photovoltaic systems, solar hot water and advanced heat-recovery technologies, all contributing to the reduction of energy consumption by 70%. Rainwater recycling provides for irrigation of the native plantings in the yard and rooftop garden. by
Designed by Coates Design, a Seattle architecture firm: http://coatesdesign.com/
How to transfer title in an FSBO
Architect sustainability into a Hospital.
Hypersolar is a company working on creating a feasible hydrogen generator using nothing more than sunlight and any source of water...
Imagine a generator that you can have in your back yard that runs NOT on dangerous gas cans of diesel, but on water... even dirty, gutter water! Even stale pond water! The prototype shown in the video uses water from the Salton Sea, which is known to be full of hazardous agricultural runoff.
Here they have a working "prototype" with some expensive materials as part of the cells. They believe they can manufacture these less expensively.
Watch the video and read why I think this company is the real thing.
Things that make me believe this company is not out to scam anybody:
-- Its founder is a dedicated scientist, with published academic research.
-- Company now has a Highly-competent CTO
-- It has an academic on board as a scientific advisor.
-- It has an ongoing research agreement / relationship with the University of Iowa
-- Continuous improvement in bringing down the cost of doing this on a large scale.
This is a small team, and is currently a small-cap stock. However, we NEED these little ventures, because that is where breakthroughs happen. I have full confidence in the ability of the team to deliver value to its investors.
Hypersolar IS a public company, and if you believe in the future of innovations like this, you can invest in HYSR at Tradeking. New investors, please sign up with this link: http://bit.ly/2dAQrUy
Portland to participate in Whitehouse's Smart Cities Initiative
80 million investment to build smarter cities. There are some endeavors that are simply too much for any one city to take on by itself.
NIST’s Global City Teams Challenge is establishing multi-team super-clusters to take on grand challenges too big for any single city team to tackle. Examples include multi-city resilience to large-scale natural disasters, intelligent transportation systems that work in any city, and regional air quality improvements through coordinated local action. This initiative brings together groups of communities formed around lead cities—Portland, Oregon; Atlanta, Georgia; Newport News, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; Bellevue, Washington; Kansas City, Kansas; and Kansas City, Missouri—to work with NIST and its collaborators, including DOT, DHS Science and Technology Directorate, NSF, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the International Trade Administration, the Economic Development Administration, IBM, AT&T, CH2M, Verizon, Qualcomm Intelligent Solutions, Intel, US Ignite, and Urban-X, to develop ‘blueprints’ for shared solutions that will be collaboratively implemented in multiple cities and communities.
NIST is announcing $350,000 in four new grants enabling 11 cities and communities to work together on innovative smart city solutions. The Replicable Smart City Technologies grants to teams of communities led by Newport News, Virginia; Bellevue, Washington; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Portland, Oregon focus on the development and deployment of inter-operable technologies to address important public concerns regarding air pollution, flood prediction, rapid emergency response, and improved citizen services through inter-operable smart city solutions that can be implemented by communities of all types and sizes.
Electrical hazards in homes in the Northwest are rampant, due to a specific company's product .... these are especially common in Oregon and Washington.
Federal Pacific Electric breaker box.
"According to a report, some Federal Pacific Electric panels failed to operate properly nearly 60% of the time in the event of a power surge. The homeowner had no way of knowing that too many electrical devices were plugged into one room. The devices required more electricity than the circuit could provide. “The wiring got hot enough to fry an egg,” the electrician reported. Normally, the circuit breakers should trip to cut off the electricity and prevent a fire. The Federal Pacific Electric breakers did not operate properly, resulting in two circuit breakers and a bus bar being burned."
WASHINGTON — The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) today announced $37 million in funding for 16 innovative new projects as part of a new ARPA-E program: Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids (IONICS). IONICS project teams are paving the way for technologies that overcome the limitations of current battery and fuel cell products."
On Netflix! A documentary about a river resource brought to the brink of destruction, its slow reclamation, and a peace made between people.
"A River Between Us tells the story of the oldest and most bitterly disputed water war in the West today. The film's primary focus is the struggle for justice on the Klamath River, where forty years of bad blood between the local farmers, ranchers, Native Tribes, members of the Tea Party, state politicians and federal government have created one of this country's worst environmental crises. Most importantly, as part of the largest restoration project in American history, A River Between Us provides the solution to ending this generations-old conflict: in order to save a river, you must first heal a people."
Pest control without synthetic chemicals
12-15 drops of Peppermint oil, 8-10 drops of Eucalyptus oil dropped into 0.5 oz dish soap diluted in 12 oz water spray bottle.
Fragrant and strong! The soap + oils will help the scents remain in humidity and weather.
Repels (low concentration of essential oils) or kills (in higher concentrations): Fleas, Ticks, Wasps, Spiders, Mites, Chewing Lice, Earwigs, Millipedes, Dust mites!
Essential Oils can be obtained in quantity online, pretty easily:
The Federal Aviation Administration is funding research to make this costly conductive concrete more affordable.
This special concrete mix, studded with electricity-conducting ingredients, could help airports and other places run on time during inclement weather.
"Potholes often originate from the liberal use of salt or de-icing chemicals that can corrode concrete and contaminate groundwater over time, Tuan said, making the conductive concrete an appealing alternative with lower operating and maintenance costs. The power required to thermally de-ice the Roca Spur Bridge during a three-day storm typically costs about $250 -- several times less than a truckload of chemicals, he said."
Battling climate change with a partnership between public and private investment in discovering and developing breakthrough technologies is the aptly-named Breakthrough Energy Coalition
While we'll never get people to stop burning wood to make fires for heat and light, and cooking -- we probably can help our planet out by finding better ways to stay warm, have light, and cook food.
And let's not forget about powering our beloved electronics!
"The existing system of basic research, clean energy investment, regulatory frameworks, and subsidies fails to sufficiently mobilize investment in truly transformative energy solutions for the future. We can’t wait for the system to change through normal cycles."
Harvesting Water from Air
Researchers in Bangalore, India have come up with a machine that can harvest the moisture from the air -- it works best in environments with 65 - 75 percent humidity.
The fastest way to grow a forest; directions modified for an ecosteader audience / adapted from the source below:
Test the soil's Ph to find out what what it lacks. Great soil has a healthy blend of Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorous -- all of which are generated from compostable materials.
Identify what species should be growing in this soil, depending on climate. It does not need to be native.
Acquire a locally-abundant biomass to feed the soil whatever nourishment it needs (may be an agricultural or industrial byproduct — like chicken manure or press mud, a byproduct of sugar production) — but it can be almost anything. The less distance you have to haul the biomass the better.
Amended the soil to a depth of ~one meter, plant saplings that are up to 80 centimeters high, packing them in very densely — three to five saplings per square meter.
The forest itself be planted to cover at least 100 square-meters, minimum. This space grows into a forest so dense that after eight months, sunlight can’t reach the ground. "At this point, every drop of rain that falls is conserved, and every leaf that falls is converted into humus. The more the forest grows, the more it generates nutrients for itself, accelerating further growth. This density also means that individual trees begin competing for sunlight — another reason these forests grow so fast."
Keep the forest watered and weeded for the first two or three years, after which it should become its own ecosystem and sustaining.
Leave it alone -- allow that ecosystem to work. Not all will, but those that do do for a reason.
It's like the DeLorean and the Tesla had a baby!
Salt water-powered automobiles are a step closer to reality -- recently approved* in Europe.
"The QUANT e-Sportlimousine features the revolutionary nanoFLOWCELL® energy storage technology – a further development of tried and tested redox flow-cell systems. The nanoFLOWCELL® sets itself apart from other systems in its ability to store and release electrical energy at very high energy densities. The very compact and powerful nanoFLOWCELL® battery system in the QUANT e-Sportlimousine prototype can power it for a driving range of up to 600 kilometres."
"But when mayors and developers focus on technology rather than people, smart quickly becomes stupid, threatening to exacerbate inequality and undermine the social cooperation essential to successful cities."
"After researching leading cities around the world, we’ve concluded that truly smart cities will be those that deploy modern technology in building a new urban commons to support communal sharing.
Unfortunately, “sharing” is often too narrowly conceived as being primarily about economic transactions. The poster-children of the sharing economy are being co-opted by the interests of venture capital and its insatiable demands for rapid growth and high-value exit-strategies. "
What can we do as community citizens to promote ecologically sensible urban planning projects in our communities?
What role should crowdfunding play in our cities?
"By allowing citizens to donate small amounts of money to projects of their choosing, urban planning can become a more participatory and inclusive process. These platforms also open up a new source of capital for projects that may not otherwise be funded.
However, civic crowdfunding also presents risks. While it can make planning more participatory, it may exclude citizens who lack the ability to make significant donations. Further, it is unclear whether governments will turn to civic crowdfunding instead of funding projects that should be paid for with public funds. Finally, most civic crowdfunding projects remain small, and it is unclear whether the model will effectively scale up.
Still crowdfunding is gaining momentum around the world. While is it most common in wealthier countries, it also has strong potential for opening up new capital in middle and lower income countries. It is already growing quickly in India, where a variety of crowdfunding platforms are emerging to fund arts and business ventures.
Crowdfunding is growing as a tool being used to fund a variety of projects, including investments in start-up companies, real estate ventures, and alternative energies. Still, these innovative funding models are early in their growth. In time, civic crowdfunding may help reshape our cities to be more sustainable and responsive to citizens’ needs and desires."
"Meet the Neurotoxins"
June 2014 is now on record as the hottest month EVER since we started tracking this stuff in the 1880's. May was the hottest "May" ever recorded, too. All the more reason to start getting serious about ecosteading.
(Graphic from: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/)
Interesting infographic about the (slowly) shrinking size of the typical American home. Homes < 800 square feet aren't even an option? Let's change this.
Algae is the new crude. It converts CO2 into triacylglycerol and can break down into a sludgy form of organic crude material (biomass), that can then be further broken down, chemically converted into ethanol and biofuel.
The question of whether algae will replace fossil fuels is the wrong question; the question is how much of earth's "oil producing" capabilities can be sped up by using algae?
"Well, it is a basically simple process that uses temperature, pressure, and time to accomplish the chemical conversions ... A lot of people think of fossil fuels as, you know, dinosaurs and giant ferns and things. There is some of that, but the bulk of the organic matter was algae. Gradually the organic matter converts into slightly different forms, which make up the material that comes out as crude oil or natural gas.”
"One of the biggest single sources of greenhouse gases and other pollution to our atmosphere are landfills. They decompose over time creating methane and other greenhouse gases."
"In urban areas as much as 40 percent of all trash is food waste."
-- Modern Marvels Environmental Tech II
In nature this process takes months, but with an indoor composter supercharging waste for the perfect oxygen, moisture content and temperature, compost can be made in as little as two weeks.
Know of any eco-friendly mail-order house companies around today?
"From 1908 until 1940, Sears offered 370 models to choose from. Houses available ranged from the modest "Starlight" to the stately "Alhambra." One option was a sweet little bungalow, called "the Osborn."
"It was one of their best selling homes," says Thornton. "I've seen 'Osborns' all over the country."
After you picked out the house of your dreams, Sears would mail it to you in 30,000 pieces. The kit included 750 pounds of nails, 27 gallons of paint and varnish, 10 pounds of wood putty, 460 pounds of window weight, 27 windows, 25 doors and a 75 page instruction book.
By following the instructions, you could build "the Collingwood," "the Chatham," "the Maytown," "the Vallonia" or "the Chelsea." A home could be brought for $500 and up.
Sears Roebuck promised that a man of average abilities could build one of their homes in 90 days. "