French Kings, Solar Power and Sustainability

Louis XIV is not a frequent reference point in today’s discussions about the world’s energy and sustainability paths. However, this longest ruling French monarch (1643-1715) was known as the “Sun King” as he often referred to himself as the center of the universe and was enamored of the sun itself. He also was the builder of Versailles, the construction of which was viewed as very innovative for its day with gardens and roads that Louis XIV arrayed in a pattern to track the sun’s movements.

2014 International Solar Decathlon in Versailles, France. PHOTO: SDEurope

2014 International Solar Decathlon in Versailles, France. PHOTO: SDEurope

With this in mind, it is not such a stretch to understand why the organizers of the 2014 International Solar Decathlon chose the Versailles grounds in which to hold this extraordinary exhibition, from which I have recently returned. The 15-day exhibition featured more than 20 universities from around the world, with Brown University/Rhode Island School of Design and Appalachian State University as the two U.S. competitors.

During each day of the competition, the entrants were subjected to judges’ inspection to assess performance in categories, such as architecture, communications (ability to literally tell their house’s story to press and visitors), energy efficiency, engineering and construction, and sustainability.

PIMA’s sponsorship of Appalachian State and the providing of polyiso insulation by Atlas Roofing to ASU demonstrated the role high-performance insulation plays in the future of the built environment.

However, it is not individual product performance that most impresses the visitor to these extraordinary homes. Yes, they all make exceptional use of the solar power generated by their installed PV systems (they are limited by the rules to only 5 kWh of electricity production from which they must run refrigerators, air conditioning, washers and dryers) and each home has an array of innovative products. But it is the synergistic result of the products’ application combined with the unbelievable ingenuity of the students and professors that excited me the most.

2014 International Solar Decathlon PHOTO: SDEurope

The “decathletes” at the 2014 International Solar Decathlon in Versailles, France. PHOTO: SDEurope

Some buildings were representative of new construction. For example, the ASU entrant was a modular townhome with the potential to assemble into a collective urban building.

In addition, recognizing that existing buildings are the greatest energy challenge, the effort to improve our world’s retrofit capabilities truly caught my eye. For example, the Berlin Rooftop Project focuses on abandoned rooftop space in that city to create studios for younger urban dwellers, while the Dutch (Delft University) addressed the poorly insulated townhomes that make up over 60 percent of Dutch homes by applying a “second skin” while including a garden capability within the home.

The several days I spent at the event were educational, but nothing was more inspiring than speaking with the students themselves. Be they from Chile, France, Germany, Japan, the United States or any of the other countries involved, their passion was compelling. The intellect and commitment of these future architects, engineers, designers and urban planners to finding sustainable solutions for the planet gives me a distinct optimism for our future.

Lighting and Security System Powered by Renewable Energy

Liberated Energy Inc.'s Guard-Lite, a hybrid lighting and security system.

Liberated Energy Inc.’s Guard-Lite, a hybrid lighting and security system powered by renewable energy.

Liberated Energy Inc. has released the Guard-Lite, a revolutionary hybrid lighting and security system. Its unique self-powered design enables it to be installed at any location without wiring or an electrical permit. With an increasing need for security and the demand for alternative energy growing, the Guard Lite provides a complete solution.

A wireless solar and wind powered construction camera fills a void in remote areas where security and surveillance couldn’t be performed before because of the costly expense in trying to provide power and an Internet connection to those areas. Liberated Energy makes this void a thing of the past by offering a cellular construction camera that is indefinitely powered by a solar panel and wind turbine and controlled by a web-based User Interface. Visit the topics below and see how a Liberated Energy Guard Lite can help your construction business:

    * Construction Camera
    * Stay Up To Date On Progress
    * Prevent Jobsite Theft
    * Verify Jobsite Deliveries
    * Ensure OSHA Procedures Compliance
    * View Multiple Jobsites Without Travel
    * Simple Installation & Examples
    * Prevent Jobsite Vandalism
    * Weatherproof Construction Camera
    * Solar Powered Construction Camera
    * Get A LIVE Picture Of The Jobsite
    * Create Time Lapse Videos
    * Outdated Construction Cameras
    * Customer & Investor Updates
    * Jobsite Current Conditions
    * Protect Against Sub-Contractor Claims

Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing Sponsors Sustainable Energy in America Factbook

The Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing is pleased to announce that The Business Council for Sustainable Energy in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance have released the 2014 installment of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook. “The 2014 Factbook documents the upward trajectory of energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy, using the latest data from 2013, and the edition adds yet another year of data to document the long-term transition to cleaner, lower-carbon sources of energy production,” according to the group’s press release.

The 2014 Factbook is a unique and dramatically powerful tool to communicate the impact of our industry on the larger U.S. energy sector by providing quantitative and objective reporting, a broad definition of clean energy that includes energy efficiency, and filling important data gaps to capture the full contribution of clean energy technologies.

“The Factbook plays a vital role in chronicling this fast-moving transformation, which is creating whole new industries and thousands of new jobs in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors,” states Lisa Jacobson, president of The Business Council of Sustainable Energy.

The center is a proud sponsor of the 2014 Factbook and a board member of The Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

Web-based Platform Allows Individuals and Organizations to Support Clean-energy Development

SolarCity is transforming energy delivery by making solar power more accessible and affordable than previously possible. Now the company wants to provide a new avenue for individuals and institutions from around the world to participate in and benefit from that transformation. SolarCity has announced plans to launch a new, Web-based investment platform through which it intends to allow a broad range of investors, including individuals and organizations of all sizes, to participate directly in solar investments that have previously only been available to large financial institutions.

“People want to support clean energy development. Customers are seeing the benefits of getting solar for their homes but they would like to participate in other ways as well,” says SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. “Previously, only institutional investors could participate in the financing of most solar assets. With our investment platform, we’re hoping to allow far more individuals and smaller organizations to participate in the transformation to a cleaner, more distributed infrastructure.”

SolarCity has acquired a privately held financial technology company, Common Assets LLC, which developed the investment platform SolarCity will use to distribute its investment products. Tim Newell, the president and chief executive officer of Common Assets, and John Witchel, Common Assets’ chief architect, have joined SolarCity as part of the transaction. Newell, who will serve as SolarCity’s vice president of financial products, brings more than 25 years of investment, technology and government experience, including roles as senior advisor to private equity firm US Renewables Group; managing director of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s clean technology affiliate fund; managing director and head of investment banking for E*Trade’s investment banking affiliate, E*Offering; and head of investment bank Robertson Stephen’s financial technology group.

Witchel, who will serve as SolarCity’s senior technology architect for financial products, is an experienced technology executive and successful entrepreneur with experience in large-scale financial innovation. Notably, Witchel was co-founder and chief technology officer of Prosper Marketplace, where he oversaw design and development of the first person-to-person online lending marketplace in the U.S. Common Assets was backed by U.S. Renewables Group (USRG), a private equity firm that specializes in renewable energy investments, and Jim McDermott, managing partner of USRG, served as chairman of Common Assets prior to the acquisition.

“SolarCity’s financial products will provide an exciting new opportunity for people to make an impact—both for their own financial future and our global future—by investing in the shift to solar energy,” says Newell. “Unlike crowdfunding and community solar approaches that typically aggregate investors to provide loans for individual projects, SolarCity plans to offer debt investments backed by diversified portfolios of solar assets.”