History of Innovation

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2012: Walney Wind Farm

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Innovation:  Walney Wind Farm
Location: offshore, West Coast U.K.
Year:  2012
By: Walney Offshore Windfarms Limited

Walney Wind Farm is an offshore wind farm located about 14 km west of Walney Island in the Irish Sea. Its capacity of 367 megawatts makes it one of the largest offshore windfarms in the world. It was the largest until the Greater Gabbard Wind farm was finished in September of 2012, with a capacity of 504 megawatts. The Walney wind farm will cover an area of about 73 square kilometers and the water depths range from 19 to 23 meters. Split into two phases with overlapping installation activities to reduce the amount of time required for construction.[1]


Written by David Lukert

October 11, 2012 at 5:57 am

2011: Agua Caliente Solar Project

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Innovation:  Agua Caliente Solar Project
Location: Yuma County, Arizona
Year:  2011
By: NRG Solar and U.S. Department of Energy

The Agua Caliente Solar Project is a photovoltaic solar generating facility currently under construction in Yuma County, Arizona. The project was commissioned in 2011 and to date 247 megawatts are online since the 10th section was completed. Peak output of the currently installed panels has reached up to 251.3 megawatts. The expected maximum capacity of the plant is expected to be approximately 397 megawatts with an annual generation of 626 gigawatt hours. The project is currently (2012) the largest solar power plant in the world. [2].  It funds approximately 400 construction jobs and 16 full time operating jobs. [1]  `

Written by David Lukert

October 11, 2011 at 6:17 am

2010: Alta Wind Energy Center

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Innovation:  Alta Wind Energy Center
Location: Kern County, CA
Year:  2010
By: Terra-Gen Power

Alta Wind Energy Center is a wind farm located near the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County, California. It has a combined installed capacity of 1020 MW and a maximum capacity of 3000 MW, but its annual production is approximately 1,690 MW, making it the largest wind farm in the United States.[1] The Center could generate energy for 600,000 homes in the Southern California area, and in 2006, before construction even started, Southern California Edison agreed to but 1,550 megawatts over 25 years, which is one of the largest power purchase agreements ever. [2]


Written by David Lukert

October 11, 2010 at 6:12 am

Posted in Energy, Sustainability

2008: Masdar City – Masdar, United Arab Emirates

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Innovation:  Masdar City (first/only zero-carbon zero-waste city)
Location: Masdar, UAE
Year:  2008-2025
Architect: Foster and Partners

Masdar is a planned city located in Abu Dhabi, UAE, targeted to rely entirely on renewable energy sources with a sustainable zero carbon zero waste ecology [1]. The city consists of 2.3 square miles of homes and businesses for 50,000 residents with 60,000 daily commuters budgeted at US$19.8 billion. The intent for the city was to become a central location for cleantech companies and model of inspiration for a future energy conscience world. Masdar will accomplish its energy goals through the use of one of the first 40-60 megawatt solar power plant (Conergy), rooftop solar panels, wind farms, waste incineration, and hydrogen power plant [2]. A solar powered desalination plant supplies the water needs, recycling approximately 80% of water. Masdar City was designed and operated to provide the highest (healthiest) quality of life with the lowest environmental footprint. It is a global center of future energy. [3]  `

Web links: 123
Video: Masdar City

Written by Charys Clay

October 8, 2008 at 11:29 pm

2007: Global Warming Recognized

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Discovery:  Global Warming Recognized
Year:  2007
By:  United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Global warming is the increase of average temperature in Earth’s atmosphere occurring since the late 19th century.  In 2007 the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the Fourth Assessment Report acknowledging that global warming is occurring.  The report summarized a climate model consisting of a predicted increased global surface temperature of 1.1 to 6.4 degrees Celsius by the 21st century, depending on the release of greenhouse gas emissions. Consequences of global warming have included increase in sea level, broadening of subtropical deserts, and change in precipitation. UNFCCC was formed to propose policy changes to reduce the release of greenhouse gases.

Currently nonprofit organizations such as Architecture 2030 exist to establish a response to this phenomenon by setting goals to reduce climate changing release of greenhouse gases by the Building Sector through the development process of planning designing and construction [1]. In addition, market driven programs such as LEED provide owners with a framework for creating green building designs, construction, and operations. These organizations help lower operating costs and increase asset value, reduce landfill waste, conserve energy and water, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, etc [2]. Because The building sector accounts for almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S, it is now considered vital that buildings be made efficiently [3]. [4]. `

Web links to more info about global warming’s impact on the building sector: 123, 4
Video: President Obama on Climate Change
Introduction to LEED Certification
Energy Effiecient Building

Written by Charys Clay

October 8, 2007 at 10:06 pm

2006: Revit MEP

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Innovation:  Revit Mechanical
Location: Cambridge, MA
Year:  2006
By: Autodesk

In 1987 AutoCAD AEC mechanical was released and acquired by Autodesk in 1990 [2]. This was one of few products with the capability of designing plumbing and HVAC in buildings. Revit was acquired by Autodesk Mechanical Division in 2002 for $133 million, and Revit MEP was released in 2006.

Today, the software is mandated by GSA and is a distinct platform in Building Solutions Division. Data from building systems can be compiled into a central file within the LAN to detect possible space interferences of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, therefore deterring expensive consequences upon construction. Revit provides engineers with a central form of communication in design, ultimately implementing easier collaboration. Designers spend more time designing and less time drafting. In addition, Autodesk Revit MEP tools help produce energy efficient building systems designs [3].

Web links: 1, 2, 3
autocad mechanical vs revit mep
Video: Getting Started with Revit MEP

1997 – Solar Panel Industry Development

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Innovation: Solar Panel Industry Development
Location: Global
Year: 1997
By: United States/Germany

Photovoltaic cells convert sunlight into electric energy through a series of steps:
Photons in the sunlight are absorbed by a semiconducting material on the solar cell such as silicon.  Electrons are knocked loose from atoms, which causes an electric potential difference.  Electric current then flows through the material to make up for the electric potential-this electricity is captured.  The atoms in the conducting materials only flow in one direction, thus the photovoltaic cells produce direct current electricity.

Solar technology development began in the 1860’s, driven by the notion of coal becoming scarce. However, solar technology development stagnated in the early 20th century when oil and petroleum became more widely available.  In 1974 only 6 private homes in North America were entirely heated/cooled by solar power systems.  The 1973 oil embargo and 1979 energy crisis put new emphasis on solar technology development.  PV installations grew rapidly between 1970 and 1983. But installations began falling in the 1980’s due to lower oil prices.  Since 1997, photovoltaic development has grown rapidly due to oil/natural gas supply, global warming, and the improving economic position of PV technology. PV production growth has averaged 40% per year since 2000- installed capacity reached 39.8 GW at the end of 2010.  The recent growth of the solar panel industry has played a significant role in the advancement of green building.  The incorporation of PV cells in building design promotes efficient environmentally-conscious alternatives to provide a building’s energy.

More info: [1],[2]

Written by Charles Lander

October 9, 1997 at 5:06 pm

Posted in Energy, Sustainability