According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar electricity use in the United States increased by 34% in 2014 versus 2013. As the popularity of solar panels grows larger, the cost of the power source drops, making it an even more viable option to many consumers. As such, the SEIA also estimates that the cost to install solar technologies has dropped by over 73% since 2006.
One of the major drawbacks of solar panels is their aesthetic impact, which only allows for a very small amount of light to pass through, as well as the overall size and weight of each panel, which can impact the structural integrity of an existing building.
Ubiquitous Energy has created a solar energy solution that allows light to pass through it, while still collecting an adequate amount of solar energy. The exciting thing for the construction industry is that the less than 1/1000th millimeter thick film can be applied to the windows of a building and collect energy, without affecting the amount of light entering the building.
Its secret is that the invisible solar film only absorbs the non-visible light rays: the ultraviolet and infrared. Due to only harvesting two-thirds of the available light, the film does not perform as well as its non-transparent cousins, but it makes up for that fact by allowing solar harvesting where typically unavailable before. Ubiquitous also hopes to use this technology as a power source for mobile devices, which would make charging your devices a thing of the past
As the video below by Bloomberg Business points out, this material has the potential to be applied to the windows of a skyscraper, which would make a huge dent in the need for external power sources.
Invisible Solar Cells That Could Power Skyscrapers | Bloomberg Business
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Since the dawn of green buildings, these projects have always been synonymous with LEED certification. The process of obtaining that LEED certification has not always been an easy one for contractors; there is a ton of paperwork and documentation that needs to take place in order to prove all LEED credits have been rightfully earned. A new construction standard, called BREEAM, is hoping to disrupt the United States’ green building certification world with its impending New Construction Standard Release in 2019.
One of the biggest hassles of site work in construction is the hauling away of spoils. It’s costly and time consuming to bring in truck after truck to take unneeded soil off to an unknown dump site. When Elon Musk and his team, The Boring Company, started digging a tunnel for a HyperLoop system in Los Angeles, they knew there had to be a better way to handle to soil than to haul it away.
The following is a guest post written by Laurence Banville, Esq.
With much talk about climate change both politically and socially, citizens and the business world have started to calculate the way in which climate change will alter how we live and work. In the past, the construction industry has made a number of speculations about how it would change as the planet gets warmer, however, changes have only started coming in light of the rising temperatures and their effects on the industry.
The USGBC recently released their 2017 data for the Top 10 US States for LEED construction, which is sorted by Gross Square Footage per Capita. That ranking system allows them to get a fair comparison of states, despite differences in population and number of buildings.
As the world not only becomes more familiar with green products, but also starts demanding them, researchers and contractors alike need to be ready to embrace the ever-changing world and meet their customer’s demands. Each year, new products are released that hoping to reduce waste or harness renewable energy sources, but only some of them reach the mass market.
Below are 8 green products, processes, and stories that we found most interesting in 2017:
Wood construction has typically been used for purely residential products in the past few decades and especially after fire protection standards became more stringent. Besides fire rating, concrete and metal has several other benefits over wood, including overall strength, resistance to insects, and resistance to rot. Wood, however, does have some advantages over concrete and steel, like its relative light weight and it’s much less harmful to the environment.
The Netherlands has a ton of bridges, especially pedestrian and biking bridges, thanks to its abundant system of canals. Perhaps because of that, they have become a leader in 3D printing technology when it comes to bridges.
Concrete is an extremely strong building material, but has a notoriously weak tensile strength. In order to resist tension, bending, and shear forces, steel rebar or other reinforcement materials are added either prior to the placement or into the mix. Even with reinforcement, concrete is still extremely rigid and prone to cracking. In the event of a major earthquake, the uneven and horizontal forces can cause structures to crack and, in the worst case, cause failure.
Concrete can adapt to any shape its formwork calls for while it’s being placed. While it’s POSSIBLE to make intricate designs with the material, it’s not always easy or practical to do so. Researchers from ETH Zurich have designed a new method of forming and placing an ultra-thin, curved concrete roof system that they plan on installing on a construction project next year.
As electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular around the world, researchers are trying to find ways to adapt the technology to heavier duty applications. Due to the large size of projects and amount of money in the industry, the mining industry has seen its fair share of technological advancement. Several manufacturers, like Komatsu, have developed and released driverless dump trucks for mining operations in the past few years. A team of companies in Switzerland is now working on a gigantic battery powered dump truck that will be tested for 10 years.