Archive for Leden, 2012

Sustainable design defines UT Arlington’s College Park Center

Úterý, Leden 31st, 2012

UT Arlington’s College Park Center is more than an entertainment venue. It’s an example of what can happen when design intersects with a commitment to sustainability and innovation.

The $78 million special events center was designed by HKS Inc. to meet U.S. Green Building Council guidelines for LEED Gold certification and incorporates recycled construction materials and many energy-saving features.

What sets the building apart from an increasingly-crowded field of LEED-standard projects is the way the events center invites the natural environment in to what might have been a traditional, inward-facing venue, said David Skaggs, vice president of HKS Inc. Sports & Entertainment and senior architect for the project.

“This project was an opportunity to show what could be accomplished when the desire for a unique, first-class fan experience and sustainable design strategies are combined,” Skaggs said.

The building makes maximum use of natural lighting in its sweeping, grand entrance atrium, throughout its concourses and in one, full-size practice court.

Perhaps most notable is the building’s interaction with The Green at College Park, the new, 2.6-acre park on the south side of College Park Center. Southern concourses open toward The Green, providing programmable space for events that might spill outside as weather permits.

The City of Arlington and the North Central Texas Council of Governments collaborated with UT Arlington to develop the $2.8 million park, which was designed by Arlington-based Schrickel, Rollins and Associates.

Storm water from the events center and other paved areas surrounding the park is directed toward The Green through various ecological retention features full of native wetland vegetation. Specialized soil, plants and design concepts in the park will allow for a more than 25-percent decrease in the amount of storm water runoff that would have been expected from College Park Center.

In addition, more than a third of the storm water runoff from the 468-acre campus will travel through the Green at College Park site during major storm events.

Landscape architects say at least 80 percent of the suspended solids in the water will be filtered out before the remaining water flows toward Johnson Creek, a flood-prone tributary of the Trinity River.

The Green at College Park is one of 150 locations worldwide to serve as a pilot project for the Sustainable Sites Initiative or SITES, a new rating system for green landscape, design, construction and maintenance. Last week, it became one of the first projects to be certified by SITES.

LED Lighting Company Elemental LED Partners with United States Green Building Council

Pondělí, Leden 30th, 2012

Elemental LED, A San Francisco Bay Area based LED lighting company, announced yesterday that it is now a partner in the United States Green Building Council’s Affinity Program. This program gives members of the USGBC Northern California chapter discounts at several green businesses throughout California.

Elemental LED launched the partnership with a special 1-month 25% discount to USGBC members. After the first month, Elemental LED will provide an ongoing discount of 20% off the company’s LED lighting products, as well as special deals to new members.

USGBC members include professionals from the fields of architecture, design, construction, engineering, government and real estate who are invested in building environmentally sustainable communities. Elemental LED will be gaining access to a large group of potential customers whose goals of decreasing energy use are similarly aligned. USGBC is in the process of improving benefits in an effort to attract new members.

“We are excited to be a partner in the USGBC Affinity Program. We hope to educate more green architects, contractors and building professionals on the energy and cost-saving benefits of installing LED lighting,” says Elemental LED Marketing Manager Charlotte Dick.

LED light bulbs, lamps and fixtures typically use 90% less energy than incandescent equivalents, and 50% less than fluorescent replacements. LEDs are typically rated to last 50,000 hours, which is 35 times longer than an incandescent equivalent, and 3 to 4 times as long as a fluorescent.

Elemental LED products all hold RoHS certification, which guarantees that no environmentally harmful components were used in manufacturing. Fluorescent bulbs and tubes contain mercury, a highly toxic material.

The USGBC has over 35 chapters nation wide. The Northern California Chapter includes over 1,300 members. A complete list of Affinity Partners and member benefits can be viewed on the USGBC Northern California Chapter website.

Elemental LED is where style meets sustainable lighting. Elemental LED offers a wide selection of LED lighting products for home and business owners, including LED strip lights, light bars, puck lights, wall washers, light bulbs, controllers, power supplies and more.

Products include dimming, color-changing and waterproof functionality. Elemental LED offers in-house engineering and comprehensive customer service and education, from live phone support to online tutorials. LED lighting technology is the safest, hippest, and most energy efficient way to light up the world.

Annual NRF show promotes retail technology advances

Pátek, Leden 20th, 2012

The mood was upbeat for retail in general as officials with the National Retail Federation (NRF) welcomed attendees to its 101st annual conference, the “Big Show,” and announced optimistic news for the retail sector.

Though stubbornly high unemployment dampens the outlook for 2012, the retail industry will still grow at a rate faster than many other industries, according to officials. This year, retail industry sales will rise 3.4% to $2.53 trillion, according to the NRF, slightly lower than the pace of 2011, in which sales grew 4.7%.

“Over the last 18 months, retailers have been on the forefront of the economic recovery–creating jobs, encouraging consumer spending, and investing in America,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. “Our 2012 forecast is a vote of confidence in the retail industry and our ability to succeed even in a challenging economy. Retailers have played a key role in driving growth, but to continue this momentum we need Washington to act on proposals that will spur job creation and unleash the power of the private sector.”

Other revelations at the show included a few from Raleigh, N.C.-based MaxPoint Interactive, a consultancy that helps retailers drive in-store traffic through technology. They noted recurring themes of mobile adoption, a cross-channel customer experience, data security and growing excellence in customer service.

Suppliers at the conference noted heavy interest in areas such as self checkout. A representative from ECR Software Corp., Boone, N.C., said their software–housed on an HP self-checkout unit–received a lot of interest for its fresh new look.

“We do a lot of research between ECR and HP targeting the frustrations consumers have with self-checkout–slow transactions, scratched scanners and other issues,” Ashlee Olson, vice president of marketing for ECR told CSP Daily News. “Our system is very fast and uses a lighting system that directs the eye. When you get cash back, the area lights up. And it’s at eye level, so it’s not beneath you.”

Special features include a new, patent-pending “LED Consumer Guidance” system that is designed to ease customer frustration, speed transactions, and reduce attendant workload.

ECRS has been providing complete retail automation solutions since 1989. The ECRS solutions suite includes: Point-of-sale, self-checkout, backoffice management, mobile reporting and analytics, automated inventory management, supplier integration, video surveillance, self-hosted gift card, customer loyalty, membership management, dedicated store server, POS electronic advertising, signature capture and pharmacy management system integration.

As one of the world’s largest retail trade associations, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs–42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.

Pay-As-You-Go Solar Could Provide Clean Electricity to 1 Billion People

Čtvrtek, Leden 19th, 2012

Up to 1 billion people in the world still lack or have unsteady access to electricity. For these people, kerosene, a dirty petroleum product, is usually the fuel of choice–or more accurately, they have no choice. This US$36 billion a year industry often consumes 30 to 35 percent of poor families’ income.

Nevertheless there is hope – without giving Westerners the willies that we are going to kill the planet through carbon emissions. Solar energy, specifically solar printing, could be an answer. One company working on this front is Eight19, a UK company that provides printed plastic solar cells that are flexible, lightweight and can be used on a bevy of solar-powered applications.

Eight19 confronts the problem that the world’s poor face when choosing a fuel. While kerosene is relatively expensive, families are accustomed to purchasing the necessary fuel on an as-needed basis. Meanwhile clean energy options like solar power systems require payment up front.

IndiGo, Eight19’s pay-as-you-go solar power system, combines mobile telephone technology to provide pay-as-you-go solar. Users benefit from a unit that can light two rooms, and buy mobile phone credits that can then provide light for children’s homework at night or street vendors the ability to work when it is dark. The system is also scalable and can expand to cover more rooms if required by users. This high tech social innovation scheme provides countless opportunities at many levels.

Now, this social enterprise will ramp up its efforts with Solar Aid’s SunnyMoney, a solar lamp distributor in East Africa, through what they call the “Kickstart Sustainable Energy Fund.” Donations and interest-free loans from donors and impact investors will cover the first 4000 lighting systems to be installed in Kenya later this year.

If the program progresses smoothly, the circulating revenues that it generates should be one step in broadening solar lighting (and the all-important) mobile telephone recharging throughout the region.

Eight19 announced a Kickstarter campaign this week at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. With countries like the UAE taking a more active role and providing more international aid, this is one such solution that can offer countless bang for the buck . . . or the dirham. From the Middle East to Latin America, solar as a service could build wealth and clean the local air–and boost countries’ goals to achieve increased energy independence.

Light up dog toys and accessories that really shine

Středa, Leden 18th, 2012

It’s this time of year, when it gets dark so early, that those of us with dogs start thinking about blinky lights for their collars.

But the world of light-up dog products has gotten a lot more sophisticated than that.

These days, in addition to the collar lights, there are collars themselves that light, leashes, and even toys.

Among the best, Unleashed has decided, are those made by Nite Ize.

Karin and her ever-playful Border Collie Dean tried out one of the brand’s collars, as well as their glowing ball and flying disc. They were a hit. And having seen the two playing in the park with the ball — I have to say it’s one of the best night toys I’ve ever seen. People — not just dogs — wanted that super-cool ball, with it’s disco-like color changes.

The Nite Ize products were definitely designed for durability and hours of play in poor lighting. With our winter dog walking schedule currently in full swing, where most of the walks occur before or after daylight, these products were perfect for keeping Dean safe and busy.

I felt Dean was safer when he wore the “Nite Dawg” orange LED collar on our evening walks. Instead of merely wearing a blinking light, this collar glowed orange, the entire way around his neck — much easier to see. The collar kept him visible while crossing the busy streets of Baltimore and running around the park. Also, the collar is lightweight.  At around $17.50, I’d definitely say this collar is a great buy for anyone who walks or plays with their dog at night.

The “Flashflight dog discuit” ($16) was a lot of fun and the LED light has lasted for over two months of repetitive play each night. The disc is easy to throw and dog-mouth friendly for catching and sometimes biting (especially for a Border Collie with an abnormally long tongue that tends to get bitten during Frisbee games!).  The battery housing is also covered by durable rubber so I didn’t have to worry about Dean biting through it and getting a mouthful of battery.

The Meteorlight K-9 led dog ball was by far my favorite (as it was Dean’s).  After losing countless balls inthe dark, this one was almost impossible to lose!  We tried the disco version that appears to glow in all the colors of the rainbow.  The ball is also mouth friendly not like other hard plastic lighted balls that we’ve tried.  The on/off button is a bit tricky but the LED light has never turned off after long throws and hard bounces.  At $12, I would buy a dozen of the Meteorlights to use during the winter!

We also found, and confirmed it online after an adventure with the ball in a stream, that it’s water resistant.

The Verdict: I’d give the NIte Dawg and Meteorlight ball 5 paws. The Flashflight discuit was also fun but due to the price comparison with other discs and Dean’s love of the ball, he knocked the rating down to 3.5 paws.

Town testing LED streetlights on North Main

Úterý, Leden 17th, 2012

Last month, the town started testing the energy-efficient “light emitting diodes” in two streetlights on North Main at Piedmont Street.

Two different vendors provided the lights to test as the town considers making the switch. A third style from a different vendor is planned for testing in the future at South Main and Elm streets.

“There are a lot of utilities and localities looking into the LEDs,” said Culpeper Town Light & Power Director Mike Stover. “LEDs lower energy usage by as much as 50 percent.”

They do cost quite a bit more than the standard incandescent bulb, but the investment is made up over time. According to the town, the cost of an LED streetlight is $400-$600 compared to the current standard high-pressure sodium streetlight costing about $250.

LED prices are dropping with better technology and more interest. Stover said five years ago LEDs accounted for 1 percent of streetlight sales while today that figure is 10 percent.

They provide whiter, cooler light, emitting light in a specific direction whereas incandescent or fluorescent bulbs emit light and heat in all directions.

LEDs last much longer, shining for up to 100,000 hours compared to 24,000 hours for a standard bulb, according to the town. The town of Culpeper recently transitioned all of its traffic signals to the LED variety.

As for its streetlights, the town is not rushing into the LED market but is planning for the future, according to a town news release. Officials hope citizens will weigh in on which style they like best. The two lights on North Main Street have differing light intensity and footprints.

The town is also looking at LED light technology that is compatible with the “acorn” style streetlights in the core downtown area.

“It doesn’t hurt to look at future technology to illuminate our town,” Stover said.

A new LED lighting technology which uses less electricity but produces brighter and longer lasting light will soon be available.

Greentech LED Lighting Sdn Bhd executive chairman Datuk Syed Elias Syed Ahmad said the company would be the first to introduce the German-based technology to the country.

“The lights, also known as Green Lighting, are widely used in the United States, Europe and China, and we are excited about introducing it to Malaysians,” he said.

He added that the company would be collaborating with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) to produce new LED products using solar power which would benefit those living in rural areas.

“Our lights are different from other LED products as the bulbs use multiple chips on board design which saves 80% of energy as compared to regular LED lights,” he said.

Bruce Springsteen once again dazzles at Light of Day

Pondělí, Leden 16th, 2012

It had been a boisterous Saturday night in Asbury Park. A marathon five and a half hours of guitar rock, broken only by brief occasional acoustic interludes, had set the sold-out house astir.

But shortly after midnight, all motion at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park stopped. Every head was turned to center stage as the curtain went up on a solo Bruce Springsteen, who held the audience spellbound with the story of Spanish Johnny and Janie and their “Incident on 57th Street.”

By the time he reached the chorus — one written years ago and recorded on an album devoted to madly romantic tales of street life — the rambunctious, festive crowd was ready to sing it back with the reverence of schoolkids doing a flag salute. Exhaustion, restlessness, inebriation — it was all forgotten. The Boss was in complete command, and the faithful were ready to follow him wherever he wanted to go.

By now, Bruce Springsteen’s unannounced sets at the Light of Day Festival are anything but a surprise. After he’d spent Friday shooting a video in Asbury Park to promote his upcoming album, few wondered if the Boss would sing at the charity concert, held annually to benefit Parkinson’s disease research. Instead, the speculation in the house was mostly about whether Springsteen would match the marathon two-hour set that closed the 2011 show.

He did. Backed once again by the capable Joe Gruschecky and the Houserockers — Pittsburgh’s steel-smelting answer to the E Street Band — Springsteen did not stop strumming until the clock ticked past 2 a.m, and even then, only reluctantly did he unstrap his guitar. Once again, the show reached its climax with a rollicking version of “Twist and Shout” and a cathartic mass singalong rendition of “Thunder Road.” If you missed it, head down to Asbury Park and press your ear against the boardwalk; it’s surely still reverberating.

But while many of the moves — and some of the songs — were the same, this was no rehash of Springsteen’s 2011 set. At this time last year, the E Street Band had no shows on the calendar, and Springsteen attacked the Light of Day concert with the desperate ferocity of a dog let loose in the park after a long winter cooped up indoors.

This January, he’s preparing to take to the road in support of a new set that he’s calling his angriest yet, and the Boss is clearly ready for a year of nonstop activity. His fabled sense of showmanship was perfectly calibrated and fine-tuned, and while it would be wrong to call the veteran rocker acrobatic, he can still execute a triumphant leap from a high drum riser, guitar in hand, as well as any of his countless imitators.

His storytelling vocals were growly perfection — no matter how big a star he’s become, he still effortlessly channels the moral authority of the working class hero — and his guitar leads, especially his barbed scrawls of notes on courtroom drama “Johnny 99,” were reliably exciting.

Expected as his concert was, Springsteen maintained the capacity to surprise. He leapt into the audience during the final chorus of “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day,” and led the crowd singalong surrounded by Light of Day revelers. E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg took the sticks for a run through “Light of Day,” the optimistic rocker that gave its name to the ever-growing series of charity shows.

Going ‘green’ sometimes turns into green

Čtvrtek, Leden 12th, 2012

Students, faculty and staff at Bishop Watterson High School are increasingly discovering that it’s not only easy being green, but also sometimes less expensive.

A wide array of programs and initiatives to increase recycling and reduce energy consumption has been introduced at the East Cooke Road high school since about 2009, according to science teacher Will Reiss. More than 50 percent of the time, he said, the “green” approach has been found to reduce the impact on the school’s budget, as well as the impact on the environment.

“We have taken the philosophy here, as we prepare the students to survive in this day and age, they should look at the economic aspects, too,” Reiss said.

These programs have been less about the bottom line and more about preparing the students at Bishop Watterson to be better stewards of the earth, in the opinion of longtime principal Marian Hutson.

“I think it’s our responsibility as citizens to provide opportunities for them to learn keeping the environment safe for our future citizens is vital,” she said last week. “To be good stewards of our environment, students need to learn that’s a way of life.”

The philosophy in place BWHS will be extended into the feeder schools during the 2012 summer institute, Hutson added. The program for the institute, open to seventh- and eighth-grade students, will be titled, “It’s Cool to Be an Eco School.”

Around 1,000 people, including students, teachers, administrators, staff members and even parents, participate in the recycling efforts at Bishop Watterson, according to Reiss, who retired from a 30-year career in public schools in 2001 and became a science teacher at the high school five or six years ago.

“The replacement of incandescent bulbs in the chapel, maintenance shop, boiler room, copier room and storage areas with energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs was done at the recommendation of the school maintenance department. Altogether we replaced over 200 high-energy-use incandescent bulbs with the low-energy, long-life CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps).”

In addition, according to Mar, the drama department requested the replacement of the theater lighting with dimmable CFLs in order to upgrade the light coverage. Since these use about one-fifth the amount of electricity of a standard incandescent bulb, this will equate to several thousands of dollars in reduced utility bills over the three- to five-year lifetime of the bulbs, the spokeswoman indicated.

“In conjunction with the schoolwide recycling program, our environmental club recycles the incandescent bulbs, as well as all kinds of fluorescent bulbs as they are replaced,” Mar wrote regarding the programs. “The materials from all of our recycled light bulbs are now reused in the creation of new industrial equipment, such as new fluorescent bulbs and fiberglass insulation.”

With Sony’s New Crystal LED Display, Color - and Costs

Středa, Leden 11th, 2012

Sony demoed a 55-inch prototype model of a next-generation television that it calls a “crystal LED display” at CES on Tuesday.

It’s claimed to be the first 55-inch full HD self-emitting display using LEDs as the light source.

Sony claims the display offers better contrast, more color and faster video image response times than its existing LCD displays.

The company is “trying to address the life cycle problem with OLEDs, which have had a horrid service life in TVs, typically dropping to about half their original capability within 12 months,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

Many TV makers are currently banking on organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens.

Sony’s technology is different from other manufacturers, Sony Electronics Vice President Brian Siegel said, though he declined to provide details regarding other aspects of the technology.

The prototype demoed at CES had a 55-inch screen and a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080, Sony said. Full HD uses about 6 million LEDs, divided equally among red, green and blue.

Sony’s new displays consist of RGB LED light sources equal in number to their resolution in pixels, meaning that a screen with a resolution of 6 million pixels will have 6 million LEDs.

To achieve this, three ultrafine LEDs — one each in red, green and blue — are put together to create a pixel.

The LEDs are mounted directly on the front of the display.

This improves the efficiency with which the LEDs use light, offers images with higher contrast in both light and dark environments, and provides a wider color gamut than NTSC screens. It also improves video image response time and offers wider viewing angles than existing LCD and plasma displays.

Power consumption is less than 70 watts, Sony claims. The display has a viewing angle of about 180 degrees.

Sony’s crystal LED display is a direct-view matrix of LEDs, as opposed to an LED-backlit LCD, according to NPD DisplaySearch Research Vice President Paul Semenza.

Direct-view LED displays are usually made for outdoor billboards or large indoor signs and are meant to be viewed from tens of meters away. The screen adds to the interest in the technology race for large-sized flat panel TVs, Semenza said.

However, the method used — clustering RGB diodes to form a full color pixel — is not new. This approach is used to make conventional LED panels.

The pixels crated are usually square. They’re spaced evenly apart and are measured from center to center when calculating resolution.

Jerry-Tron” at Cowboys Stadium in Denver, claimed to be the largest HDTV screen in the world, uses conventional LCD panels with a twist. Each pixel consists of four LEDs — two red, one green and one blue — instead of the more usual three, one of each color. The screen measures 160 by 72 feet.

Lowe’s Unveils “Smart Home” System

Úterý, Leden 10th, 2012

Home-improvement retailer Lowe’s will bring the “smart home” concept closer to the mainstream, selling kits to let users manage homes through the cloud.

The company is pairing with AlertMe, a U.K.-based company that will provide equipment and a cloud-server. The kits will connect thermostats and alarm systems to a home network, which users can access through the Internet or an app to manage, giving them access to device settings.

The products, set for release later this year, will be affordable for “the mass market,” according to Kevin Meagher, vice president and general manager for the smart home program at Lowe’s.

Lowe’s said customers likely will be attracted to the cost-savings and convenience of the smart technology, which can link a home’s devices into a network, making them more accessible. The company partnered with AlertMe because its system is able to control multiple devices from a single app.

The new kits are part of a larger trend linking mobile devices with users’ homes. For example, last summer, Google unveiled its Android home program, which partnered with Lighting Science Group to build a wireless home lighting network that can be remote-controlled with an Android smartphone.

Google also plans to create a wireless home theater system that also controllable with a smartphone, under its “Project Tungsten” program, its blueprint for a connected-home.

However, since Lowe’s new products are cloud-based, homeowners will be able to access their devices’ controls through any computer or mobile device they log onto and won’t be limited to only one OS. AlertMe charges a monthly fee for its U.K. customers, but Meagher said U.S. customers will likely not need to pay extra fees. The website for the systems will be operated through Lowe’s.

Lowe’s new system is expected to drive product sales for the company, because over time, many more of the company’s products will be Internet-enabled.

“We think there’s a real danger the whole market could stall if we just let all our manufacturing partners stick things on the shelves without considering the broader interests,” Meagher said. “Consumers stand to get confused by the technology and lose the real benefits.”

The base AlertMe system includes a wireless thermostat, plugs, and a small network hub. The full system will also include security gear, including a wireless front door lock and motion detection system. The kits will work with Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Z-Wave wireless connections.

As more people become connected with smartphones and tablets, home management systems likely will continue to grow and help people remain linked with their homes, even if they’re miles away from their own front doors.