Recent Posts:

The TV Slims Down on Power

Michael Kanellos: September 30, 2008, 3:26 AM

CHIBA, Japan -- For years, TV makers competed over price and screen size. Now they're beating each other up over who is the most green.

The environmental friendliness of TVs is the new battleground for set manufacturers, at least from my interviews at Ceatec, a technology trade show taking place in the Tokyo suburb this week. Sony, for instance, has a 42-inch LCD TV from 2005 on display that consumes 131 watts while showing programs. Next to it is a 2008 set of the same size consuming 57 watts to show the same program.

Sharp also has two experimental TVs that run on solar power. One, a prototype 26-inch LCD TV, consumes only 40 watts of power, less power than a conventional light...

Panasonic: A Rising Force in Green Homes

Michael Kanellos: September 30, 2008, 2:54 AM

CHIBA, Japan -- Startups that make green homes be warned: Panasonic is coming. It will take a few years, but it’s coming.

The Japanese electronics giant has assembled a strategic plan to start making modular homes in about three to five years that will combine green construction along with sophisticated electronics to curb energy consumption, according to executives during a roundtable discussion at Ceatec, a large technology trade show taking place near Tokyo this week.

In a Panasonic demo at the show, sensors embedded in the ceiling adjust the air conditioner and lights depending on whether or not people are present. The sensor system (based around a technology called Beam...

Global Crossing Founder Gets Into Cement

Michael Kanellos: September 26, 2008, 8:19 AM
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Gary Winnick, the investor who founded the once-mighty telecommunications giant Global Crossing, has gone green. Winnick is the chairman and founder of iCrete, which says it can reduce the carbon content in concrete by 40 percent. Manufacturing concrete and cement are two of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Winnick also continues to be the CEO of Pacific Capital Group. The company has developed algorithms that let engineers and contractors optimize the concrete going into a particular site for strength and durability while at the same time maximizing LEED points. The secret sauce is that iCrete can reduce the amount of cement paste in the...

A Frisbee-Shaped Home From France

Michael Kanellos: September 26, 2008, 4:17 AM
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It can withstand typhoons. It is more earthquake proof than most homes. And it looks like something Cornelius and Zera might have lived in during the original "Planet of the Apes." It's possibly the coolest home ever. It's the Domespace home from Solaleya. Patrick Marsilli came up with the idea in the late '80s. Some have been built in Europe and Asia and now the company is coming to America, David Fanchon, project director at Solaleya told me during a meeting at West Coast Green, a green building show taking place in San Jose. One home has already been built in New Paltz, New York. The secret sauce of the home lay in its unusual swoopy design. That...

A Light Switch Without Wires

Michael Kanellos: September 25, 2008, 5:03 PM
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Think of it as peel and stick electronics. Verve Living Systems is debuting a new lighting control system for homes at West Coast Green that does away with wires. You plunk a light switch on the wall (you can stick it on with tape or screw it in), sync it with a remote control to a particular lamp, and that's it. The next time you flick the switch on, the light goes on. Flick the on button and hold your finger on it, and it acts as a dimmer. Flick it off, and it turns off the light. You can then take it to another room, sync it with another lamp, and start using it there. At nighttime, you can even tweak a switch to flick on lights that will let you go from...

Green Building VC, Pt. 3: Meet the Team

Michael Kanellos: September 25, 2008, 5:03 PM
I finally spoke with the team at the VC firm that will target green building. Navitas Capital is run by Jim Pettit and Travis Putnam. They plan on strictly investing in companies dedicated to green buildings, building materials and other technologies that relate to cutting down the energy and carbon generated in construction or running structures. So far, the firm has invested in Serious Materials, the green drywall guys, and Integrity Block, which makes a building brick out of rammed earth. Integrity Block is particularly interesting. EcoRock, the green drywall from Serious, gives contractors and building owners LEED points, but it costs more than regular drywall. Integrity...

Startup Converts Old Shipping Containers Into Homes

Michael Kanellos: September 25, 2008, 12:18 PM

Here's a home that’s been on the high seas.

South Carolina’s SG Block is retrofitting those 40-feet steel boxes you see on cargo ships emblazoned with brand names like Maersk into building units for homes. The home you see in the picture, on display this week at West Coast Green taking place in San Jose, is made up of five of them. Three reformed containers form the bottom floor and two make up the top floor.

The company has already erected a few homes and is now working on a development of several homes in Oceanside, California. Because the frame is made of steel, the homes also should stand up well in earthquakes. Ultimately, SG wants to become a component supplier to the...