NASA’s Air Pollution Remover Now Available For Consumers

The International Space Station (IIS) has seen a long list of technological innovations on board for experimentation, and according to Treehugger, a green consumer media source, one of these products may be coming to American store shelves in the near future.

Known as Airocide, this device is used to clear out any potentially threatening organic materials, including mold spores and pollen. It has been in use on the IIS for several years, but after a good deal of internal debate and advocacy from green nonprofit organizations, NASA will be releasing it for general use sometime this year.

Gizmag, an online consumer tech source, reported earlier this month that the Airocide could have a dramatic effect on home environment pollution. While a single unit isn't exactly cheap – the device goes for $799 with an additional $99 for each replaceable filter – the health benefits are worth investigating, experts say.

"Airocide purifiers have actually been in use in places such as grocery stores and food-packing plants since 1998, and were introduced to medical settings such as hospitals in 2003. Now they're finding their way into the home for the first time," the publication stated. 

According to the official website for the Airocide, the beginnings of the product date back to the troubled Apollo 13 mission in the 1960s, when onboard astronauts were forced to improvise an air filtration device. The lack of a comprehensive system led to the development of new methods for clearing the air of harmful pollutants.

You can order an Airocide by clicking here and following the instructions. There are similar products available on the internet, and a little bit of research can provide additional services as well. 

Stay with the blog for more information on this and other environmentally friendly products for consumers. 

Walgreens Announces Net-Zero Energy Outlet In Illinois

Walgreens, the U.S. retail pharmacy chain, announced earlier this month that it will be instituting a net-zero policy at a proposed store in Evanston, Illinois. The construction project, which is expected to be completed sometime this year, will replace an existing Walgreens that does not feature any energy-efficient technology.

According to a press release, the company has been developing the project for the past year and a half. During that time, Walgreens officials focused on building community support by conducting a dialog with local green companies.

The new Walgreens location, when completed, will feature a variety of renewable energy sources that will help the store keep utility costs and fossil fuel usage to a bare minimum. It will feature more than 800 solar panels in a rooftop array, a pair of wind turbines and a geothermal heat-harvesting system to generate electricity. Additionally, the parking lot will utilize "daylight harvesting" ports to promote natural luminescence, while LED lighting sources will be used in the parking lot for evening business. The building itself will be constructed out of recycled and eco-friendly materials. 

Thomas Connolly, the head of Walgreens' facilities division, called the initiative a big step forward for the chain of consumer pharmacies. 

"We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and leading the retail industry in use of green technology," Connolly said. "We are investing in developing a net-zero store so we can learn the best way to bring these features to our other stores. Because we operate 8,000 stores, we believe our pursuit of green technology can have a significant positive impact on the nation's environment."

This development highlights a growing movement among American companies, which are trying to lower costs and improve energy efficiency. Stay with the blog for more updates on this and other green living success stories. 

Report: U.S. Could Save $1 Trillion Over 15 Years Through Energy Efficiency

This blog has addressed the issue of energy efficiency in the past, either through presenting do-it-yourself guides or exploring various reports released on the subject. Now, according to a brand-new study from the U.S. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit advocacy group, the amount of money that could be saved through sensible power practices is far higher than previously estimated.

ACEEE's analysis showed that, were American households, businesses and government associations to undertake a comprehensive energy efficiency overhaul, total power consumption could fall between 17 and 20 percent by 2020, and up to 31 percent by the end of 2030. All considered, this would amount to approximately $1.4 trillion in savings.

The organization outlined a number of useful proposals, including mandating a national "smart grid" project which, as we have described previously, could help make maintenance and expansion cheaper and easier for engineers. Likewise, diversifying energy sources to include more wind, solar and geothermal heat would reap additional benefits as well.

The Climate Group, another eco-friendly nonprofit, voiced its support of the report through a press release, saying that the findings were a good start to begin a national conversation about energy efficiency. This idea was previously hinted at during President Barack Obama's most recent State of the Union address, when he called for an across-the-board reduction in electricity use to help save the country money.

"Improving energy efficiency in homes, businesses and industries is one of the biggest opportunities to reduce U.S. emissions in the near term. And as this report shows, it can be done with cost-effective government policies that encourage economic growth," Evan Juska, the organization's chief for U.S.-based policy, said in a statement.

While it may be some time before these kinds of energy consumption reductions take place, it is encouraging to see researchers developing the actual numerical benefits of this kind of green living policy.  

Google Creates Remote-Controlled Irrigation Networks

An irrigation network is like the circulatory system for a farm – it provides the necessary nutrients that allow plants to grow and prosper. Running this kind of set-up requires a lot of time and energy, but a team of engineers at Google has reportedly been working on a way to dramatically increase the efficiencies in such a system. 

Known as Irrduino, this innovative system can be operated from a simple mobile app. J.J. Barrons and Joe Fernandez, two current employees at the tech giant, began working on the initiative as a way for homeowners to automate their residential gardens more effectively. However, the idea is quickly expanding into one that could change the way that farmers operate their vast crop fields. 

"I call this project Irrduino," Fernandez wrote in a recent blog post, "Because at the core of it is an Arduino microcontroller that lets me remotely control the irrigation zones at my house. Irrduino communicates via Ethernet and standard html requests and responses (specifically a REST interface with JSON responses, for you web geeks out there) which means I can control my sprinklers from anywhere on the planet with a web browser and an internet connection, or any smartphone with the same."

Interestingly, the pair has decided to release the source code for Irrduino, so they aren't trying to commercialize or market the project. Rather, they're most likely hoping that everyday folks adopt this software as a way to improve their green living standards through the use of technology. If you're interested, you can find the necessary information here

This development is yet another great idea to come out of the American technology giant. For more exciting innovations that aim to promote sustainable lifestyles, stay with the blog. 

Apple Adopts Carbon-Free Power For Database Operations

Apple, Inc., the tech world's innovation powerhouse, has spent the past few years bulking up its renewable energy sources in order to meet its ever-growing electrical needs. According to a report from Treehugger, a green living media source, the Cupertino-based company has achieved a number of its eco-friendly goals, including a drive to operate its vast database centers entirely on clean power.

Earlier this year, Apple released an in-house "environmental report" that outlined a number of its initiatives and detailed the steps it was taking to rein in its dependence on fossil fuels. For example, Apple's data center in Maiden, North Carolina, utilizes a photovoltaic (PV) solar array to generate 20 megawatts of electricity. At over 100 acres in size, this facility is necessary to power the billions of bytes of information that the company's users keep in the cloud. The Maiden plant also incorporates a specialized water system to reduce coolant costs and a white roof to encourage solar reflectivity.

"Our goal is to power every facility at Apple entirely with energy from renewable sources — solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal. So we're investing in our own onsite energy production, establishing relationships with suppliers to procure renewable energy off the grid, and reducing our energy needs even as our employee base grows," the company states on its official website.

Ultimately, Apple is aiming to produce 100 percent of its global electrical demand from clean energy sources. Given the fact that this ratio has risen from 35 percent in 2010 to 75 percent last year, the company clearly means business.

Through a mix of solar, wind and geothermal resources, Apple has made great strides toward becoming a truly green company. Hopefully, other businesses will take this cue and make eco-friendly investments of their own. 

What Are The Benefits Of A Home Energy Audit?

When it comes to improving the energy efficiency of your home, it takes a keen eye to figure out precisely what needs to be changed to make your domicile more cost-effective in terms of utility use. We have covered this topic previously on our blog, reviewing the different ways that you can boost overall efficiency by making minor changes. However, to really do it right, most industry experts suggest getting a professional energy audit. 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) suggests that this type of investigation can yield improved efficiency rates of up to 30 percent, meaning that after you make the recommended changes, you ought to see a noticeable change in your monthly utility bill. 

However, the federal agency cautioned consumers about signing up with just any energy auditor. Rather, the DOE urged on its website that people do the right level of research and information-seeking before they hire someone to perform the inspection. In addition to checking with the Better Business Bureau, it helps to review customer feedback and even reach out to folks they know to see if the auditor is worth employing.

Once you arrange the audit, you'll be amazed at how quickly they will discover ways for you to boost energy efficiency. Whether it's by simply turning off more lights during the evening or replacing older, more power-consuming appliances, this kind of investigation is invaluable as you try to live a greener and more cost-effective lifestyle. 

One of the most helpful tips the DOE offered was that homeowners should ask a lot of questions during the audit. That way, they can learn more about home energy efficiency and avoid these kinds of mistakes in the future.

For more green living tips and topics, stay with the blog. 

Community Solar Garden Grows In Orlando

Residents of Orlando, Florida will soon be able to benefit from a community-owned solar garden run by the area's municipal electricity provider. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) is hoping to entice enough participants to be able to offer constituents the chance to lock in their power rates for up to 25 years.

Officials from the OUC say that it is an enormously positive experience to be pursuing the solar garden, which is a concept that has been growing in popularity for the past several years. Towns and cities in states like Colorado, California and Texas have been adopting this measure as a practical way to expand the use of solar power sources.

People invest in panels and pay a predetermined fee, while the OUC would take care of maintaining the array. A spokesman for the organization, speaking with the newspaper, argued that this method is one of the cheapest ways to benefit from clean renewable energy

"If you want to do solar, this is the cheapest way to do it," Tim Trudell of the OUC said.

The OUC is offering power from its garden for approximately 13 cents per kilowatt hour, which is modestly cheaper than fossil fuel sources. To help sweeten the deal, the association is offering a $50 optional-rebate deposit for those who stay in the program for longer than two years. 

While the solar garden has yet to be built, the Sentinel reported that work is already underway to secure funding. A federal grant will provide some of the $1.2 million needed to design and build the array, while another portion will come from private investors. With luck, this network of solar panels will be successful, and the development could pave the way for future projects that provide similar benefits. 

Lockheed Martin Develops Graphene-Based Water Desalination System

Lockheed Martin, the American company well-known for its aeronautics creations, has reportedly been issued a patent for a revolutionary way to desalinate ocean water. This development is significant because the vast majority of the Earth's available water is too salty for human consumption, and contemporary methods for making it drinkable have proven too costly at best and ineffective at worst.

According to a press release from Lockheed, researchers developed a filtration system that incorporates graphene, a material commonly used in nanotechnological processes. A specialized form of carbon, this substance has also been used in applications like creating next-generation electronic transistors. Scientists at Lockheed harnessed its stable structure to make Perforene, a proprietary filter that can remove chlorine, sodium and other potentially harmful chemicals from water.

Perforene consists of a sheet of graphene with nanometer-sized holes in it. These gaps are large enough to allow water through, but they trap other materials. Officials from Lockheed stated in the release that water filtration is just one way that this new product can be used.

"Access to clean drinking water is going to become more critical as the global population continues to grow, and we believe that this simple and affordable solution will be a game-changer for the industry," Dr. Ray Johnson, the company's senior vice president and chief technology officer, said in a statement. "The Perforene filtration solution is just one example of Lockheed Martin's efforts to apply some of the advanced materials that we have developed for our core markets, including aircraft and spacecraft, to global environmental and economic challenges."

While the company has not announced when it will release the design for purchase, Lockheed is reportedly "seeking commercial partners" following its patent approval. You should stay with for updates on this and other important green living topics. 

Arizona Activists Preserve Green Energy Standards

An effort to reduce renewable energy mandates imposed on Arizona utility companies was defeated by green power activists this week, according to Greentech Media, an eco-friendly news source.

The proposal, which was supported by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), a state government panel devoted to business utility issues, would have withdrawn the requirement that electricity providers utilize clean power sources for 15 percent of their total generation portfolio.

Following the announcement of the idea in January of this year, environmental advocates launched a huge outreach campaign that raised thousands of dollars and collected just as many signatures. Eventually, the proposal was dropped. 

The source reported that Arizona remains one of the nation's busiest solar power markets. The state was second only to California in terms of new installations, which numbered 63 in 2010, 273 during 2011 and an estimated 710 last year. Greentech stated that these efforts were largely due to the mandates set by Arizona energy officials.

At the heart of the argument by the ACC is that the state shouldn't put taxpayers on the hook for solar panel-related liabilities. However, environmental advocates countered that there are both short-term and long-term benefits to utilizing the sun's energy for electricity, and that demand in the state for this technology is proof of its viability.

Even former members of the state energy organization say that most people prefer having the option to choose this source of power. 

"Poll after poll shows Arizonans want more solar," Nancy LaPlaca, a previous policy advisor for the ACC, told the press. "Despite paying lip service to it, the current ACC is, according to solar developers, impeding Arizona's fledgling solar industry."

This development highlights the growing influence that solar electrical sources have in our country. Folks can support these efforts by pushing their own municipal governments to adopt comprehensive, green-focused power policies that promote independence and organic growth. 

Yellowstone National Park Launches Hydropower Project

Since December 2012, the management at Yellowstone National Park has been taking advantage of a so-called "micro-hydropower" system.

This electricity-generating device, which is located in the heart of the natural preserve, is capable of producing up to 240 kilowatts of power, according to a press release. Officials from Yellowstone say that the initiative is the descendant of previous efforts to introduce clean energy at the park, but this particular one represents the first time that a zero-emissions system has been built on such a small scale.

"Commercially supplied energy has long powered the lights in Yellowstone. But a new spin on the same century-old technology is not only adding a few hundred extra kilowatts of free, home-grown power to what's already being supplied by the grid. It's also helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 800 metric tons each year. The park's goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2016," the organization that runs Yellowstone said in a statement.

The Mammoth micro-plant, the source reported, gathers energy from a collection of creeks that are fed into a reservoir. A generator was placed inside a 12-inch water pipe, which uses a 4 cubic feet-per-second flow of water to create electricity. 

This blog has reported on small-scale hydroelectric power systems in the past, including one in New York City that makes free energy from the natural flow of water. This type of technology is slowly but surely gaining popularity, especially in communities and areas that are hard to reach with conventional power sources, like Yellowstone.

For more updates on the renewable energy sector and the latest developments in the field of green living, stay with us at