Solar Windows

If you picture the glittering glass skyscrapers that dot America’s cities, it becomes clear why the idea of using that vast window space to generate solar power is gaining traction. In 2009 alone, 437 million square feet of windows were installed in non-residential buildings in the United States. That many square feet of standard solar panels would generate around 4 gigawatts of power, roughly the total installed solar capacity in the U.S. today.

Such potential is leading engineers and entrepreneurs to more intensively explore the idea of turning windows into solar-power producers. Solar windows, a subset of the growing field known as building-integrated photovoltaics, are based on the concept that a window doesn’t need to be 100 percent transparent, and a solar panel doesn’t need to be 100 percent opaque. Several ways currently exist to turn a window into a power-generating device, from thin-film silicon, to dye-sensitized solar cells, to tiny organic cells.

New Energy SolarWindow

Some experts think the field is poised to take off, and although the world may not see an all-solar skyscraper for a while, a number of companies are promising commercial-scale production of various solar windows in the next two years. Still, the cost and technical hurdles facing this fledgling technology could get in the way of a future filled with towering, emission-free power plants. Like other cutting edge alternative energy sources, energy-generating windows could become a mainstay of a greener future in the coming decades, or they could prove to be impractical and produce only a fraction of solar-powered electricity.

“The challenge is whether you can get the cost down and the electricity generation up,” says Sarah Kurtz, a scientist with the U.S. government’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado. “There are lots of different schemes and strategies, and creativity will be the name of the game. If you can get the cost to the place where those windows don’t really cost any more than conventional windows, it obviously makes sense to go ahead and have your windows generate electricity.”

Building-integrated photovoltaics, or BIPV, is moving slowly, with solar panels now doubling as walls, shingles, and other parts of buildings. MJ Shiao, a senior analyst at GTM Research, a market analysis group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says the market still represents only around 1 percent (a few hundred megawatts last year) of solar powerbeing installed around the world, and that’s mostly rooftops or semi-opaque skylights. Windows pose a greater challenge than rooftops or walls because of the need to actually see through them. So far, very few examples of skyscrapers with solar windows exist; the highest profile site is the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago, where Pythagoras Solar installed a small prototype in 2011.

Several technologies have emerged for solar windows, though none have yet taken off in a meaningful way. But one company that says it is close to commercial deployment is New Energy Technologies, based in Columbia, Maryland. It has developed a method for spraying tiny organic solar cells onto windows in a see-through coating that lets in 40 to 80 percent of sunlight, absorbing the rest. With 10 patent filings pending and no commercial prototypes yet in the field, the company is divulging few details. But the spray-on method could reduce production costs dramatically. Recently, the company announced the development of a large solar cell — 170 square centimeters — made in collaboration with NREL, which could make adding the cells to windows even cheaper.
Despite the company’s progress, its technologies highlight one of the major obstacles to solar windows: efficiency. The rate at which a solar panel turns the sun’s energy into electricity is a concern for all types of solar power, but especially for windows. “The challenge is that the light you see, if you absorb that and use it to make electricity, that means you don’t have a window anymore,” says Kurtz.

To date, the record efficiency for an organic solar cell is 10 percent, and production line efficiencies never get up to the record levels. While traditional solar panels are now producing power with 15 to 20 percent efficiency, efficiency levels for solar windows of roughly 5 percent are unlikely to be economical.

“Look at it from a physicist’s point of view,” Kurtz says. “A solar panel that’s put out in the desert in a nice location with lots of sunshine may have something on the order of a one-year payback. If that [panel] sits out there for another 20 years, you get that much return on your investment for society.” If a solar window can only achieve one-third the efficiency of a solar panel, then it will take three times as long to pay back the investment.

But some experts think it’s just a matter of time before efficiencies rise high enough — and costs drop low enough — to make solar windows a sound investment. Andreas Athienitis, a professor of mechanical engineering at Concordia University in Montreal who is working on technologies for solar windows, says more mature technologies like thin-film silicon might represent a short- and mid-term solution for BIPV, until organic cells can catch up and meet long-term goals. “I think eventually it will be a big market,” he says, but the adoption is slow because “it’s a disruptive technology.”


Another company using organic solar cells, Heliatek, based in Germany, has panels that can achieve 8 percent efficiency. The company’s organic cells use molecules called oligomers rather than traditionally used polymers — basically, short rather than long collections of atoms — which means cheaper, more precise application of the cells. Heliatek says it expects that within five years it can manufacture solar cell windows in the 50 cents-per-watt range, making them competitive with other solar technology.

Spain-based Onyx Solar offers a number of solar glass technologies. However, its windows only allow up to 30 percent of sunlight through, so a lot of light inside the building is lost. In varying formations, though, Onyx says its amorphous-silicon solar glass — a type of thin-film silicon cell — can get up to 9-percent efficiency.

But such efficiencies don’t take into account some of the practical limitations of actually covering a skyscraper with solar windows.

“The optimal installation for solar is you want it to be facing south, you want a slight tilt to it, and you want good solar access, so you don’t want anything to shade those panels,” says Shiao, of GTM Research. “The problem with skyscrapers is suddenly you’re putting them in vertical orientation, there’s only one south side to the building, and chances are that skyscraper is next to another skyscraper, which is going to shade that side of the building.”

Such challenges have left Shiao and other experts skeptical that solar windows will have a bright future. “There are a lot of technical and design challenges, which quite honestly aren’t going to be fixed,” Shiao says. “It doesn’t make sense almost at any cost, unless you’re getting the panels for free or something, to really install that system on those big structures.”

These obstacles haven’t deterred numerous fledgling companies. Oxford Photovoltaics, spun out of research done at Oxford University, says that computer modeling of a 700-foot skyscraper in Texas suggests thatcovering it in solar windows would generate up to 5.3 megawatt-hours per day of electricity. That’s enough to power 165 homes, and it could provide a skyscraper with sufficient power for all its lighting.

Oxford’s technology involves a type of cell for solar windows called a dye-sensitized solar cell. Dye-sensitized cells use a photo-electrochemical process to generate power and can be made relatively cheaply. Oxford’s transparent panels are so far getting around 6 percent efficiency, and the company hopes to bring them to market late next year.

Nazir Kherani, a professor of engineering at the University of Toronto, believes that the economics of solar windows may be most compelling for new construction with a focus on net-zero energy buildings — not for retrofitting existing skyscrapers. “With sufficient attention to design and seamless engineering, it is conceivable that we may see such buildings gradually evolving into net-zero communities, villages, and towns,” Kherani says.

Several companies involved in solar window production say they are within a year or two of scaling up or bringing a product to market, and they maintain that cell efficiencies will continue to rise and prices continue to fall, as is the case with solar panels.

What continues to drive the inventors and entrepreneurs involved in developing solar windows is the enormous potential for energy savings. Buildings accounted for 41 percent of all electricity consumption in the U.S. in 2010, more than transportation or industry. Taking a bite out of that with power-generating windows is an alluring target.

“I wouldn’t write off the possibility,” Kurtz says. “How soon will it happen? I find it’s really dangerous to predict the future.”

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The Sun Rises on Solar Power

The Sun Rises on Solar Power -- Ford Focus Electric -- © Westend61/SuperStock
by Denise DiFulco
The price of solar electric systems has fallen rapidly in recent years, making solar energy more accessible than ever. In 2010, the installed cost of residential and commercial solar photovoltaic power systems fell by 17 percent from the previous year, falling an additional 11 percent in the first half of 2011, according to a report by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). So is now the time to take the plunge?
Well, such statistics don’t mean that solar power systems are cheap. The average cost nationwide last year was $6.20 per watt, says Ryan Wiser, a Berkeley Lab scientist. An average-size home (about 2,000 square feet) generally requires a 5-kilowatt system — approximately a $31,000 investment. “There’s a large up-front cost, but there’s also economies of scale,” Wiser says. “The cost per unit on a smaller system will be higher.” So if you opt for more power — say, a 10-kilowatt system — the price per watt will be substantially lower. Your circumstances could also help: It’s cheaper to install a system on new construction versus an existing home. There are several ways to defray the overall costs. One is through state and federal solar energy rebates. A list of current rebates is available through theDatabase of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Another is by entering a net metering agreement with your utility company. When your system generates more power than you need, the excess returns to the electricity grid and your meter runs backward. This allows you to receive full retail credit for the power your system generates. A way to avoid up-front costs altogether is to lease. Leasing has become a popular option in recent years, Wiser says, with more than half of new installed systems being leased through companies such as SolarCity, SunRun and Sungevity. How much you can potentially save on electricity depends upon many factors, including the size of the system you choose and your current retail electricity rate. Online calculators, such as Berkeley Lab’s Home Energy Saver, can help you make that determination. They also can help assess other ways to make your home more energy efficient, which is the best first step to take when switching to solar power. “We tell people they really need to look at their building energy use,” says Sherri Shields, a spokeswoman for the Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida. “The more energy efficient you make your home, the less equipment you need to put on your roof.” If you’re purchasing your own solar panels, as opposed to leasing, it’s best to hire a local solar contractor or an electrical contractor that specializes in solar power. The contractor will take into account many considerations, including how much energy your home uses and potential sites for the panels. The type of roof you have, which direction your home faces and even nearby trees and other shade-producing obstructions all need to be factored in as well when designing a system. “It’s not just something cookie-cutter, out of the box,” Shields explains. Other things to keep in mind? Check with your insurance company to make sure your system will be covered under your homeowners insurance. Sometimes, a separate rider to the policy is required. Also, be sure all components carry the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark for quality and safety, and inquire about a truss-mounted system for roof panels — especially if you live in an area prone to severe weather. “We have to be especially careful in Florida,” Shields says. “If it’s not part of the roof structure, it’s going to come falling off.” Still in need of more information? A good basic guide for getting started is also available here, through the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. So put your plan together, go solar, and expect many sunny days in your future.

Cargo Container Homes

Cargo Container Student Residences

Shipping containers can be readily modified with a range of creature comforts and can be connected and stacked to create modular, efficient spaces for a fraction of the cost, labor, and resources of more conventional materials. With the green theme growing in popularity across every stretch of the world, more and more people are turning to cargo container homes for green alternatives for office, and even new home, construction. There are countless numbers of empty, unused shipping containers around the world just sitting on the shipping docks and taking up space. The reason for this is that it’s too expensive for a country to ship empty containers back to the their origin in most cases, it’s just cheaper to buy new containers from Asia. The result is an extremely high surplus of empty shipping containers that are just waiting to become someone’s home or office.
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Freeway Windpower

 Freeway Wind Power

   With the Republicans kicking and screaming as they are dragged along, it seems like the Untied States is finally trying to make some forward progress in alternative energies. The desire to live off the grid has exploded and everyone is wanting to become a part of the trendy new solution to world destruction and fossil-fuel dependency. Many Americans now see that these new technologies not only shrink their environmental footprint but also saves them some cold hard cash in the process. This revelation has brought green living many new converts over the last several years, but without widespread cooperation from the private, corporate, and federal level, change may be too slow to come. Let’s face it, we can’t just wait around until everyone has the money to buy an electric car and put solar panels on their roof. Perhaps it is time to start exploiting some of the United States unnatural, renewable resources.

   One must look no further than the daily commute to work to discover one of our nation’s greatest, untapped resources. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the United States currently has over 45,000 miles of interstate highways hosting millions of travelers each day. Besides the countless tons of pollutants being spilled out of these vehicles’ collective tail pipes, the freeway traffic has one other commonly created resource; wind turbulence. As these vehicles barrel down our nation’

This s highways, at nearly 70 mph, they displace the air around them causing air currents that could be harnessed by wind turbines located in the medians. Our roads could one day be lined with millions of these small, vertical-axis wind turbines turning what is currently a black stain on environmentalism into a serious hope for the future. nearly free, clean energy could be a major factor in easing the national dependency on fossil fuels as well as power millions of homes and businesses around the country.

Do It Yourself Go Green Projects

Article by kathy jhones

Green houses are the best options for go green projects. Green house, also known as the glass house are the house like structures where the plants are grown. These structures are made of glass and plastic. Depending upon the material used to build the structure, green houses are named as glass green house and plastic green house.

The green houses are mainly for commercial purposes and are for the flowers and vegetables production. The green houses are built with high tech technology, where in a computer system is installed to monitor the temperature and lighting installation. The glass and plastic walls used in the green house act as preventive walls for the free circulation of air. The heat energy is trapped inside the green house.

Green houses keep the crops away from the climatic changes. It acts as a shield to protect the plants from pests, dust and snow. Hence green houses help to grow the crops perennially in spite of the climatic changes. Fruits such as tomatoes, tobaccos and flowers are been grown in the green house. In these days floating green houses have become common in areas surrounded by water.

Building a green house is not just a profitable one. Its something that derives you immense satisfaction. One can derive the immense pleasure of gardening which cannot be amounted. We need not be afraid of the natural and artificial hazards that may spoil our crops.

Here is an idea for a simple do it yourself green house.
Planning Whether you are building the green house for your residence or office or for other commercial purpose its important to draft a blue print of the technical knowhow.

Also decide the type of plants you are to grow and then proceed with the set up. Then work upon the size of the house. The sizes vary from 6 – 4.5 feet to 20 – 10 ft. It is very essential to choose the more suitable size depending upon the plant we are to grow.


Now the decision has to be made whether to build a glass or a plastic or a wooden green house depending upon the type of crop. Aluminum alloy frames can be used as it is durable and much cheaper than wood. The ordinary PVC pipe frames are also available in plenty in the market. The wooden green houses are the most traditional one. But the wooden green houses are durable for only about fifteen years. When compared to the artificial materials such pipes and frames wooden green houses have a more natural appeal. Black wood is more suitable for the green houses.


Concrete flooring with terracotta tiles are required in the center for the pathway.


As the green house is a closed place, rain water cannot be used for the growth of plants. Hence proper irrigation plans has to be laid down. A hose pipe or an artificial water trickling or spraying system can be used depending on the size of the house.

A thermometer and heating and cooling equipment needs to be fixed.

Thus a green house is done by ourselves and can be pursued as a hobby.

About the Author

Want to learn DIY( Do It Yourself) like paint wood and paint metal? visit us today for more then 4000+ DIY methods at

7 Eco Friendly Ways to Go Green For Free!

Article by Roz Green

Let’s face it many Americans want to be more green in their daily living, but don’t know where to start. A lot of the most publicized eco friendly changes are often times quite costly. I know because I was one of those Americans. So I have put together 7 simple ways to go green without spending a day.

1. Turn things off – Sounds so simple, yet rarely done. You can save energy by simply flipping a switch. Try this for 30 days, start turning off appliances, lights, etc. when not in use and develop a new energy saving habit.

Skip the Heated Dry Cycle on you Dishwasher – Allow your dishes to air dry right inside the dishwasher. Some may argue that washing dishes by hand is more energy efficient, but as it turns out using an Energy Star dishwasher is actually more energy efficient and more water-wise then washing dishes by hand.

Take Shorter Showers – When showering, particularly log showers you are using several gallons of water. Obviously shorter showers use less than log luxurious showers. Even baths in a shallow tub is more efficient because you’re using a fixed amount of water.

Donate Your Old Magazines – Magazines can be recycled in curbside bins, but why not donate them to libraries, hospitals or doctor offices. You can even use them as wrapping paper.

Clean your Refrigerator Coils – If your refrigerator has coils on the back, once or twice a year you’ll need to turn your refrigerator off and to clean those coils. Cleaning those coils enables your refrigerator to operate more efficiently.

Put On a Sweater – Finding an optimal temperature is a challenge in itself, but reducing the thermostat a few degrees can reduce use as well as raising your temperature when cooling.

Wash Full Loads of Clothes in Cold Water – Most detergents work well with cold water have have specific detergents designed to work in cold water. Even if you wash with warm water, you’re saving more energy then if you were washing in hot water. Lastly, only wash full loads.

So there you have it, these few tips for environmentally friendly living can be done by anyone that wants to make a positive change for the environment. These small changes can make a big impact on the environment and impact the environment greatly.

About the Author

Roz Green is woman trying to live a more eco friendly and green life. For more information check out my site or email me at

Going Green: 10 Tips for Eco-Friendly Exhibiting

Article by Graham Green

There’s no question that consumers are starting to pay attention to eco-friendly companies. With the threats of global warming, over-filled landfills, water shortages, and many other environmental concerns looming on the horizon, some businesses that want to make a difference in the world—and attract a large amount of consumer goodwill—are choosing to go green.

There are plenty of reasons to consider environmental factors when planning for your next exhibit. If your industry is not traditionally linked with environmental movements, having a “green exhibit” is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Add to that the fact that you’re doing your part to make the world a better place, and you’ll feel less guilty for blowing your competition out of the water. Here are ten tips for going green at your next exhibit.

Building a booth? Use eco-friendly materials. If you’re building a custom booth this year, you have several options for greener materials. First, try to avoid wood. The earth’s forests are nearly 80% depleted, and that’s bad news for our atmosphere. Trees breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen—so they may be our first line of defense against global warming. Leave a few trees standing by choosing another material to build your booth.

One more eco-friendly choice is recycled metal. While this may not seem like the most biodegradable choice, it’s much better than using non-recycled metals. For example, the process of recycling aluminum takes about 95% less energy than it does to create new aluminum from ore. Recycling steel uses about 60% less energy than making it from scratch.

Another option is wood/plastic composite. This building material is made up of sawdust from lumber and furniture companies mixed with fragments of plastic trash, such as soda bottles and garbage bags. There are many different brands, and the wood comes in colors ranging from deep ambers to espresso browns—as beautiful as natural wood, without the environmental price tag.

Consider your paints. Oil and latex-based paints are toxic to the environment—they contain poisonous chemicals that can’t be removed at a treatment plant. Leftover paint is often poured down the drain, and it gets into oceans and waterways. It also leaches from painted items in landfills, further damaging the environment. Even worse, VOC’s—volatile organic chemicals, such as cyanide—in paint evaporate at room temperature, contributing to global warming while coating your booth.

Instead of traditional paints, look for non-VOC paints made by big-name paint manufacturers such as Sherman Williams and Behr. Other eco-friendly paints are made from talcum powder, clay, and chalk.

Get green giveaways. When looking for a good giveaway item, choose with an eye toward minimizing trash. Avoid items that come in plastic packaging. Avoid plastic altogether, in fact, unless it’s recycled. Good ideas include cotton or hemp tote bags, food in recycled-paper wrapping instead of plastic, recycled plastic Frisbees, pens and other items, and ceramic mugs. Stay away from plastic bags, wood, and non-recycled materials.

Use energy-efficient lighting. Incandescent light bulbs are notoriously inefficient. They emit only 10% of the energy they use as light. The rest is given off as heat—which is why these bulbs can catch your lampshade on fire if you’re not careful. Instead, use fluorescent bulbs. These are much more energy efficient.

Use recycled paper. There are a lot of paper products involved in a typical exhibit: business cards, signs and displays, brochures and promotional materials. Why not use recycled paper? While most people think of rough, textured and off-white paper when it comes to buying recycled, there are many companies that make smooth, bright-white papers that are comparable to virgin papers.

Consider green printing. Some inks can be as toxic as paint. You can go green with your printing by choosing a green printer. Not all are created equally; their commitment to green printing can range from using energy-efficient operating procedures to printing with soy-based inks on recycled papers. Be sure to shop around when looking for eco-friendly printers.

Talk to your vendor. Some booth vendors are more eco-friendly than others. Some may operate under environmentally mindful conditions—using alternative energy and energy-efficient practices, for example—while others may have pre-fabricated booths built from eco-friendly materials. Be sure to ask your vendor for more advice on how you can create a green display for your next exhibit.

Going green doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. While you may have to buy a custom booth to go green, recycled and eco-friendly materials sometimes cost less than their non-recycled alternatives. Talk to your vendor, research your options, and take your time in designing an approach to green exhibiting that works for your company. No matter how far you go with it—from using recycled papers to building an entire booth from eco-friendly materials—you’ll be making a positive contribution.

About the Author

G Green is director at based in Essex, UK. For a wide range of information on producing exhibition stands including a range of folding panel stands visit