Posted tagged ‘Sustainable building’

Onyx Solar and Butech present cutting-edge Photovoltaic pavement

April 1, 2010

Onyx Solar has collaborated with Butech, Porcelanosa’s subsidiary focused on materials and constructive systems development, in the creation of the first PV pavement which is expected to be in the market by the end of the year. This innovative product was introduced at Porcelanosa’s Annual Show in February and turned out to be one of the main attractions of the show, the largest ever in terms of attendees. Porcelanosa is one of the world’s  leading manufacturers of high-end ceramic tiles and kitchen-and-bath products. Onyx Solar is specialized in the integration of solar photovoltaic solutions in buildings.

This cutting edge system, which is still in an early development stage by Onyx and Butech engineers, is made by a solar PV glass integrated over elevated ceramic and it´s completely walkable. One of its main atractives is the versatility and the fact that it is posible to place furnishing on it without losing space.

The pavement combines pasive elements (avoided CO2 emmissions) with active elements (power generation) reducing remarkably the impact of the building on the environment.

But the PV pavement is not the only Project in which Onyx Solar is working alongside Porcelanosa’s subsidiary. They are also working on a PV façade developed by both companies which, unlike the pavement, is already available and being installed in projects all over the World.


Aiming for the perfect bioclimatic building

January 15, 2008

A new building inaugurated last December at the Almeria Solar Platform is set to achieve energy savings in a range of 80 t0 90%, compared to a conventional building. What´s more, the energy that it does consume comes from renewable sources.

It is part of a research project that will run up until 2010: a myriad of sensors will check if actual conditions match the theorical predictions posited in its design and construction.

CIEMAT, the Spanish Research Center for Energy and Environmental Technologies, is behind this initiative called PSE-ARFRISOL (initials for Bioclimatic Architecture and Solar Cooling, in Spanish), with an initial budget of almost 59 million dollars. It is joined by the universities of Oviedo and Almeria and different construction (Acciona, Dragados, FCC and OHL) and solar energy companies (Atersa, Gamesa Solar, Isofoton and Unisolar).

Its main objective is to develop a total of five architectural prototypes, one for each climate area found in Spain (Cold, Warm, Hot dry and Hot wet).


(Photo courtesy of Ciemat)

The building just inaugurated corresponds to an area, Almeria, that fits the hot and dry conditions. The Almeria Solar Platform, where it is located, is a center from the CIEMAT network that pioneers different cutting-edge solar technologies and installations.

The building comprises active strategies like thermal solar collectors, pv panels, forced ventilation and absorption pumps, as well as passive strategies, such as solar chimneys, natural (simple and crossed) ventilation, buried pipes for cooling, etc.

Even though technology helps, so does common sense to take advantage of the climate conditions of the place regarding the orientation of the building, natural lighting and isolation treatments, to give some examples.

Financing and building solar powered homes

February 27, 2007

Two linked pieces of news come from the Bay area that give a hint of what is to come: More developers integrating renewable energies in their housing developments and possibly finding a bank willing to finance them.

The $money$: 

New Resource Bank, San Francisco, has launched a program to offer financial incentives for green building projects. It will initially rely on design criteria established by the US Green Building Council. However, the bank is open to alternative approaches to demonstrate green design.

The builders:

Associated Content and the Mercury news report about a high-end all-solar housing community in the Bay area. It is only the first of four projects along the same lines by Lennar, one of the nation´s biggest home builders and SunPower, that provides the solar equipment.

 The houses will incorporate  solar panels on the roof and an interactive digital electrical system which allows them to visually monitor their monthly power usage.  

Both companies are involved  with the New Solar Homes Partnership, part of California’s Solar Initiative to install 400 megawatts of solar power in the next decade. To promote solar energy, the California Energy Commission offers incentives of $2.60 a watt for systems on new homes. Homeowners will receive a one-time 2,000 dollar federal tax credit for having this solar energy system installed in their homes.

 For an individual, these 2.3 kilowatt  systems would cost  around 20,000 dollars, but the builders are able to get them from an estimate from 12,000 to 15,000 dollars  

Whenever the homeowners create more power than what they use, the local utility, Pacific Gas & Electric company, will give them a credit in their bill that can be used when the solar panels are not creating energy, for instance, at night.

Let´s just hope that things start moving downmarket fast, as with PC´s and laptops, because the price tag on these houses is still just a liiiittle steep for our middle class means (1.3 to 1.5 million bucks).