The REALLY BIG movement for sustainable design started in the early 2000’s and the product reps streamed into our office with the latest sustainable product. Innovation, however was mostly about reinventing existing products into more sustainable products. How can paint be made with less outgassing? How can carpet use more recycled content? How can more be reused in a remodeling project?
Now many years later the innovation is more holistic. How can basic paradigms be shifted to solve an issue in a totally new way? Not just alter the product but create a new solution. Here are four products that address the way we deal with space conditioning for offices, storage of solar power, ventless dryers, and LED lighting.
1. PERSONAL CONDITIONING SYSTEM (PCS)
Mechanical systems control the temperature to a set point and maintain the temperature typically between 72-75 degrees where most people are comfortable. A narrow band of temperatures means the system cycles on and off which is not efficient. What if the band could be increased between 68-77 degrees?
The Hyperchair allows individuals to control heating and cooling right at their seat (literally) with their smart phone. A lithium battery charges off hours and is good for two days of operation. Studies show a one degree increase in the temperature setting band can save 5-15% in a buildings energy needs. Some studies show a 40% savings when the band is nearly ten degrees.
2. SOLAR ENERGY STORAGE
An issue with solar energy for our homes has been what to do with excess generation during the day and the lack of it at night. Battery storage in the past has used old technology and not been efficient.
Elon Musk, the driving force at Tesla Motors, is leveraging new battery technology to store excess generation for solar energy. PowerWall efficiently stores electricity for use during hours of non-sunshine.
3. VENTLESS DRYERS
Clothes dryer technology has been the same for decades. Gas or electric models heat air to high temperatures and require all that heat to be exhausted.
Whirlpool has invented a dryer using heat pump technology which uses low temperatures and larger volumes of air to dry clothes. A heat pump dryer recirculates hot air while removing moisture from clothes. As a result no venting is required and it’s better for your clothes.
4. LED LIGHTING
LED lighting is so efficient and long lasting because it uses a lower voltage to power the lamp. Therefore, each LED fixture typically has a transformer that reduces 110 volts to 24 volts. The transformer makes the LED fixture not as efficient.
Power Over Ethernet (POE) uses computers to provide low voltage power to LED fixtures without a transformer. The wiring is a simple Ethernet cable anyone can install. Since its digital you can control with endless combinations.