Sustainable design

Making paper from algae

Watch the video at Algae Industry Magazine.

A paper-making project at Pablo de Olavide University in Seville, Spain, uses different types of algae to avoid the highly contaminant products used in conventional paper production. The result is a paper with similar characteristics as that from wood. The ECOWAL research group is also studying possible applications of this algae cellulose for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

Project to create sustainable magnets wins $10K prize

Read the full story from the University of Minnesota.

A project aimed at developing magnets that don’t require the use of rare earth elements captured the $10,000 top prize in a Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge Award (SISCA) competition held Dec. 4 at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment in St. Paul.

The hidden environmental cost of the Internet of Things

Read the full story in ComputerWorld Australia.

As M2M technologies continue revolutionise industries, there are concerns about the toll that the connected objects that comprise the IoT will exact on the environment.

Turning E-Waste into Light

Read the full story in IEEE Spectrum.

Bangalore-based IBM Research India has a bright idea for keeping discarded lithium laptop batteries out of landfills: repurposing their cells as energy supplies for the powerless. The idea, presented at this weekend’s fifth annual Symposium on Computing for Development (DEV 2014) in San Jose, has passed a small proof-of-principle test run with Bangalore’s working poor.

Our E-Waste Problem Is Ridiculous, and Gadget Makers Aren’t Helping

Read the full story in Wired.

Chances are high that you’ll be getting or giving new electronics this holiday season: an iPhone upgrade for mom perhaps, or maybe a new Windows 8 ultrabook. Device upgrades have become increasingly frequent for many of us. Unfortunately, too many people give virtually no thought to what becomes of all these discarded gadgets.

And neither are most device manufacturers.

Green Materials for Creative Minds

Read the full story from the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Entering the sustainable materials library at UNCG’s Interior Architecture (IARc) Program feels like stepping into a professional architecture firm. While most interior architecture departments have sample rooms stocked with discards and cast off donations from manufacturers, IARc has done something different. Their ever-expanding resource does not simply house materials. It tells stories.

The thoroughly-organized collection of materials is searchable via electronic catalog. Protocol sheets within the catalog detail each material’s sustainability attributes, ranging from production and harvesting practices (for natural products such as bamboo flooring) to toxic chemical content (for paints and fabrics). The catalog even considers factors such as transportation distance when accounting for how “green” a product is. Thanks to the library, students are better equipped to make informed decisions about materials they use for projects and to stay aligned with UNCG’s commitment to sustainability…

Having a sustainable materials library at the undergraduate level is unusual. The IARc library is even more so because it is catalogued through the university library system. Since the Library of Congress has no procedure for organizing this type of inventory, Mary Jane Conger of the UNCG Jackson Library helped establish an unprecedented cataloguing scheme for IARc. The materials library’s catalog is searchable through the UNCG Libraries catalog, with entries including protocol sheets as well as links to material manufacturers’ websites.

Upstart manufacturer turns fiber waste into building materials

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Looking for a non-structural building material that is as versatile as wood composite, aluminum or fiberboard but far less toxic?

That’s the promise behind ECOR, a product made from recycled cardboard, wood scraps, even agricultural byproducts such as coffee grounds and corn-stalk fiber.