Monthly Archives: May 2007

Keyhole House : eco friendly London living


Located in North London on a site flanked by a railway embankment, the Keyhole House is a 3 storey ‘eco friendly’ single family project by the Crawford Partnership.

As an ‘eco friendly’ project, the house has been designed with triple glazed windows with external copper mesh shutters to balance solar gain, a green roof & grey water recycling system, a ground source heat pump system along with some solar hot water heating, and photovoltaic panels to generate a portion of the home’s electricity.

::more info and images at architecture.mnp::

Crawford Partnership : Keyhole House


Located in North London on a site flanked by a railway embankment, the Keyhole House is a 3 storey ‘eco friendly’ single family project by the Crawford Partnership.

The house is accessed by a narrow ‘undercroft’ passage – not much more than an alley – between two neighboring houses, which creates an interesting entry into the project. Due to the site constraints, the house occupies the entire available plot – and creates an internal covered access ‘gallery’, which is top lit, that leads to the main house from the street.


From the street the house has almost no presence – simply a new doorway between existing homes. upon entering into the site, and the ‘access gallery’, one approaches a distinctly modern structure – open plan at ground floor, with full height continuous windows along the tree lines railway embankment, which provides natural shading to the home.

As previously mentioned, the project is ‘eco friendly’ – designed with triple glazed windows with external copper mesh shutters to balance solar gain, a green roof & grey water recycling system, a ground source heat pump system along with some solar hot water heating, and photovoltaic panels to generate a portion of the projects electricity.

Crawford Partnership is a small [10 people] firm in the London, founded by Alan Crawford in 1995.

‘Our projects are driven by a clear and concise design philosophy that is concerned with maximising opportunities to create interesting spaces and forms that combine dramatic use of materials and light, and address issues of sustainability and energy efficiency.’ – Alan Crawford, 2007 [from homepage].


::project via MoCo Loco::

::info and images from the crawford partnership::

More Pop For the Dollar

Well, props to this ninja from our neighbor state, VT, who managed to construct a furnace out of soda cans.  Taking advantage of a wall that faced toward the south on his garage exterior, Daniel Strohl stacked soda cans in coluns inside of a box, after drilling them out.

soda can furnace

Then, this dude painted the cans black for maximum sun absorption and arrayed them as columns, sort of how your regular air heater would work.

solar powered furnace

A whole lot of caulking later, he had something that looked like the figure above- to which he attached an air hose to feed into his garage.  Using this message he was able to get an 80 degree heat differential, which ain’t shabby.

solar powered furnace finished

On the blog there’s a whole bunch of updates and comments.  Many of the readers suggest ways in which the design could be improved.  If you want to make one of these things, let us know and maybe we’ll finance you.  We’ll at least post about it!

Originally from Hemmings Auto Blog via MakeZine.  Click the links to find out more.

Future Tech in Carbon Sequestering


Above is a beaker of liquid carbon flowing out of a beaker hundreds of feet below the ocean surfase. This is carbon sequestration and it might just be the tech we need to avert global climate change. Such technology is already in use, where liquid carbon is injected into old oilwells to squeeze out previously unreachable oil.

This year, the U.S. Department of Energy will spend $54 million to promote the endeavor, called carbon sequestration. Oil companies such as Chevron and BP Amoco, fearing future regulation on carbon emissions if global warming increases, are beginning to assist.

Researchers have proposed sending out a fleet of ships trailing 2-mile-long pipes to pump chilled, pressurized carbon dioxide into the ocean, where it would slowly dissolve and sink to the bottom. Earth’s oceans hold 45 trillion tons of carbon, compared with 825 billion in the atmosphere and 2.4 trillion tied up in organic matter such as trees, soil, and your Aunt Martha. Earth’s entire untapped fossil fuel reserves contain another 10 trillion tons of carbon. In theory, the oceans could absorb all of that and more.

There really are only three other options. One is to let global warming run unchecked, which will most likely produce major costs of its own in property loss, hunger, disease, and environmental damage. A second way out is to find some other way to keep Earth cool. Manhattan Project alumnus Edward Teller, among others, has proposed blocking sunlight by launching a giant space umbrella or orbiting a fleet of tiny sun-blocking mirrors. Lawrence Livermore’s Caldeira ran a computer climate model and found that blocking just 1.8 percent of sunlight would reduce global temperatures even if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubled. Nonetheless, he doesn’t think such schemes hold much promise because of their enormous complexity and unpredictability.

That still leaves a third approach: conservation and the development of nonpolluting fuels. It’s an effort Caldeira endorses regardless of the promise of carbon sequestration. “I think everybody agrees that the best thing would be if we could find a way to not produce carbon dioxide,” he says.


Array Scottsdale


‘Array Scottsdale’ is a condo project by Modus Development and architects [merz] project. Working with infill sites in areas that will both benefit from new development, and also have the infrastructure/community in place to support additional housing, Modus and [merz] design/build modern, green, housing.


The ‘Array Scottdale’ is made up of 9 townhouses, each with its own 2-kilowatt photovoltaic system – expected to generate about 28,800 kilowatt hours annually, offsetting around 30,000 pounds of CO2. Each unit will be around 1,800 SF – 2 bedrooms, den/office, 2.5 baths and a detached 2 car garage.


In addition to the PV panels on the roofs of the units, the project incorporates the use of ‘green’ building strategies & materials, and also uses passive heating and cooling techniques. Due to its ‘green’ considerations, the array is the first condo project to achieve Scottsdale’s ‘Advanced’ Green Building Rating and LEED accreditation.


My question is this: if ‘green’ design is the issue, and the development is within a ‘walkable’ part of the city [which [merz] says it is] – then why the 2 car garage? I’m just saying – why encourage multiple cars, and actually build spaces for them, when ‘green’ is your goal.


::via Jetson Green::

Hybrid Solar Lighting


Lighting is a HUGE drain on power all over the world – with people leaving their home lights on at all times, retail spots actually needing lighting for such large portions of the day, and many buildings just never having their lights turned out [because of how long it takes them to heat up or something? seems like a stupid reason to me…].

So what’s the solution? Turn off the lights when you leave a room, set timers, use energy efficient lamps, etc etc etc…all great suggestions. A better solution tho, for those buildings that need lighting during the daylight hours, is to actually harness the light of the sun – and redirect it into your interiors.

We bring you “Hybrid Solar Lighting‘, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s ‘Solar Technologies Program’ – fiber optics that are connected to a ’solar collector’ [which tracks the sun’s position throughout the day], which filters the visible light into a fiber optic receiver. These fiber optics are then fed throughout the building, and the natural sunlight is blended with the standard florescent interior lighting – creating a more natural lighting condition within the building. This is not only saving some users up to 60% on their electrical bills, but is also increasing sales in some retail spaces [40% more?], and helping to address issues such as S.A.D. [seasonal effective disorder].


I know the image above is fuzzy – but follow it’s link, or this one, to view a pretty interesting video on this new solar technology.

::thanks to Austin and our archininjas over at SOSH for the link::

ed. note: welcome to my first post on my new macbook! my previous myninjapleasin’ machine, a toshiba satellite, suffered a terrible death on tuesday while I was at work [full glass of water on the keyboard = you need a new laptop, apparently].

Rocket Fuel Economy


The aerospike engine is a type of rocket engine that maintains its aerodynamic efficiency across a wide range of altitudes through the use of an aerospike nozzle. For this reason the nozzle is sometimes referred to as an altitude-compensating nozzle. A vehicle with an aerospike engine uses 25–30% less fuel at low altitudes, where most missions have the greatest need for thrust. Aerospike engines have been studied for a number of years and are the baseline engines for many single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) designs and were also a strong contender for the Space Shuttle main engine. However, no engine is in commercial production. The best large-scale aerospikes are still only in testing phases.


A normal rocket engine uses a large engine bell to direct the jet of exhaust from the engine to the surrounding airflow and maximize its acceleration – and thus the thrust. However, the proper design of the bell varies with external conditions: one that is designed to operate at high altitudes where the air pressure is lower needs to be much larger than one designed for low altitudes. The losses of using the wrong design can be significant. For instance the Space Shuttle engine can generate an exhaust velocity of just over 4,400 m/s in space, but only 3,500 m/s at sea level. If a large bell (designed for high altitude operation) were used near sea level, the extra weight of the bell might not overcome the additional thrust gained. Tuning the bell to the average environment in which the engine will operate is an important task in any rocket design.

The aerospike attempts to avoid this problem. Instead of firing the exhaust out of a small hole in the middle of a bell, it is fired along the outside edge of a wedge-shaped protrusion, the “spike”. The spike forms one side of a virtual bell, with the other side being formed by the airflow past the spacecraft – thus the aero-spike.

The trick to the aerospike design is that at low altitude the ambient pressure compresses the wake against the nozzle. The recirculation in the base zone of the wedge can then raise the pressure there to near ambient. Since the pressure on top of the engine is ambient, this means that base gives no overall thrust (but it also means that this part of the nozzle doesn’t lose thrust by forming a partial vacuum, thus the base part of the nozzle can be ignored at low altitude).


Can Coal Come Clean?


The Polk plant captures all its fly ash, 98 percent of its sulfur—which causes acid rain—and nearly all its nitrogen oxides, the main component of the brown haze that hangs over many cities. Built to demonstrate the feasibility of a new way to wring economical power from coal without belching assorted toxins into the air, the $600 million plant has been running steadily since 1996. “It makes the lowest-cost electricity on TECO’s grid,” Shorter says. “It also has very, very low emissions. Particulate matter is almost undetectable.”

What is both distressing and remarkable about the Polk plant is that it could do much more. “There’s no requirement for mercury capture, but 95 percent of it could be captured very easily,” Shorter adds. More important, the plant could also capture nearly all of coal’s most elusive and potentially disastrous emissions: carbon dioxide, the main gas that drives global warming.

Industry advocates brag that the United States, which has 27 percent of all known coal reserves, is “the Saudi Arabia of coal,” with enough to burn for the next 180 years at the current rate of use. Unfortunately, coal is as filthy as it is cheap and abundant. When burned it releases three pounds of sulfur dioxide and four pounds of nitrogen oxide for every megawatt-hour of operation. The nation’s plants produce a total of about 48 tons of mercury annually. “If all the coal-burning power plants that are scheduled to be built over the next 25 years are built, the lifetime carbon dioxide emissions from those power plants will equal all the emissions from coal burning in all of human history to date,” says John Holdren, a professor of environmental policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.