Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.
A flying saucer is set to land in Silicon Valley! This week, the Cupertino City Council gave a big thumbs-up to Apple’s new $5 billion headquarters. The circular building is designed by Foster + Partners, and it looks like a futuristic wonderland for tech workers. Lego bricks are mighty popular in the design world, but can you imagine an entire house that snaps together? That’s the basic idea behind Eric Schimelpfening’s WikiHouse, which can be customized to fit a user’s needs and created using a 3D printer. In other green architecture news, starchitect Zaha Hadid shared images of her proposed Qatar World Cup stadium, which will use passive design to cool itself. Architect Sou Fujimoto released plans for a complex in Doha that uses the mist from interior waterfalls to provide relief from the region’s intense heat. The world-famous Swedish Ice Hotel is one structure that doesn’t need to worry about keeping cool. Quite the contrary: Swedish law requires that the owners of the structure, which is made from ice, install fire alarms to comply with national building regulations.
How fast are you comfortable going on a bicycle — 25, maybe 30 MPH? Try 177 MPH. That’s how fast French cyclist Francois Gissy went on a crazy rocket-powered bicycle when he recently set a new land speed record. Rocket-powered bikes might not have many practical applications, but Jesse Stephenson just created a hybrid bike that will make transporting goods a breeze. The E-Fox Velomobile combines an electric tricycle with a lightweight shell to protect riders from the rain. For more traditional cyclists, Ralf Holleis created a gorgeous super lightweight track bike that features beautiful 3D-printed lugs. And to protect your noggin, Jeff Woolf created a new foldable bike helmet that fits into practically any bag. This week we also saw the launch of the world’s first two-seat electric helicopter — which has a whopping 18 spinning blades!
Installing solar panels is easy: If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you just point them south, right? Not so fast. Researchers at Pecan Street Research Institute recently found that homes with west-facing solar panels actually generated more power than those that face south. It begs the question: Have we been installing solar panels the wrong way all this time? Subway trains produce a lot of kinetic energy, and they also produce a lot of heat. London recently announced an innovative plan to harness heat from its subways to heat residents’ homes. The scheme is the first of its kind in Europe. In other green energy news, space solar cell manufacturer Spectrolab just broke its own solar power record by achieving a 38.8 percent rate of efficiency.
People around the world are dumping their old cathode ray TVs as they upgrade to smaller flat screens, which is producing tons of electronic waste. Trouble is, those old TVs are difficult to recycle, but one company is crushing the CRT glass into a powder and reforming it into beautiful tiles. In other news, Portuguese designer Susana Soares created an amazing glass device that uses bees to detect cancer cells. Is it possible to 3D print a human heart? One scientist predicts that it could be done within the next decade, by “essentially cloning it, using a printer.” Kano Computing just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a $99 DIY modular computer kit that anyone can assemble within minutes. And if you’ve ever dreamt of wandering into a gunfight while wearing a pinstriped suit, it’s your lucky day: Garrison Bespoke used lightweight carbon nanotube material to create a bulletproof men’s suit that will make you feel like James Bond. The price? $20,000.