If we are really serious about averting the worst effects of climate change and reducing the damage that we are causing the the planet right now (that will reverberate for thousands of years of future generations of people), then we should be doing all that we can to speed up the installation of solar panels on rooftops. Along with energy efficiency, using existing rooftops for solar is low-hanging fruit. Generating energy where it is used is efficient, cheaper than burning coal, and it is also more egalitarian.
When someone with a sunny rooftop installs 20 solar panels up there, they will work together to generate electricity at up to 5 kW at one time, but the home owner may not be using that much electricity. When that happens, the meter runs backwards and that electricity flows into the city grid. Let’s say that in one month, this homeowner sends 50 kWh into the grid. Net Metering is the relationship set up whereby the utility company buys back those 50 kWh at a rate established by the Public Utilities Commission. In almost all US states the rate is the retail rate or higher. In other words, rooftop solar owners are paid at least the same amount for energy as it would cost them to buy it. This makes it cost-effective for people to install solar panels on their rooftop.
See our blog post on how to create even more incentive by raising the national tax credit to 50%.
One way or another, we simply have got to work together to make it financially attractive for people to install solar panels on their rooftops. Energy companies must embrace distributed energy and get into the game installing it themselves, like Con Edison is doing in New York State.
The text and information graphics below are provided by Bring Back Solar, the organization that is fighting to fix the damage done to the sustainable economy by the recent decision by the PUC. Since the rule was passed, thousands of solar jobs have left the state.
Background on How We Can Rebuild Nevada’s Solar Economy
Background on Solar Jobs in Nevada
Prior to the recent decision by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN), Nevada’s solar industry was growing at a rapid pace. The Solar Foundation estimates that, at the end of 2015, there were almost 8,700 solar jobs in the state.
In 2014 alone, Nevada added 3,500 solar jobs, more than NVE’s total employees that year. In 2015 this massive growth continued with another 2,800 jobs added, making Nevada the number one state in the county in solar jobs per capita. Solar jobs grew more than 53 times faster than the state’s average employment during the same period of time. Overall, the solar industry has created over 200,000 jobs nationwide. This is more than the oil and gas industry combined. Solar creates good-paying jobs that cannot be outsourced – rooftop solar installations by definition must occur locally.
What is Net Energy Metering?
Net metering is a policy that enables families, businesses, schools, and others who generate their own electricity from solar power to get fair credit for the benefit they provide to their communities. Net metering has been the law in Nevada since 1997 and contrary to NVE’s statement, was not just a pilot program.
Even though designed not to exceed a customer’s annual electricity demand, most solar systems produce more electricity than a solar customer can consume each day. All that extra electricity goes onto the electric grid, and the utility then sells it at full retail price to the customer’s neighbors to power their homes. As a result, when one customer in a neighborhood goes solar, the entire neighborhood ends up using solar electricity.
Net metering gives solar customers credit for the extra solar energy their systems send to the grid. In 43 states around the country, solar customers receive a dollar of credit for every dollar of energy they send to the grid for their neighbors to use.
How Does Net Metering Affect Non-Solar Customers?
Study after study, including a 2014 independent report required by the Legislature (AB 428) and commissioned by the PUCN, show that solar customers provide a positive economic benefit to all ratepayers and the grid.
Regardless of whether an individual family or business has gone solar, all customers benefit from rooftop solar because solar customers provide clean energy to their communities and utility. This reduces the need to build and maintain costly power plants and new powerlines to keep up with consumer demand. In Nevada, each solar installation creates a net benefit of $144 dollars per year for the grid – over $770,000 last year alone. This is because rooftop solar reduces the need for costly new infrastructure and sends clean energy to the grid when and where demand for energy is highest. On the other hand, about $57 dollars of each Nevadans annual bill goes towards NV Energy’s profits – which exceeded $350 million of net income in 2014.
What did the Public Utilities Commission Decide and Why is it Bad for Nevadans?
In December, the PUCN eliminated the state’s net metering policy, which affected the economic savings for current and future solar customers. The Commission increased fixed charges on all net metering customers by over 300% in order to ensure that NV Energy can maintain its guaranteed profits. This led to a reduction of customer savings by over 50%. Additionally, the PUCN reduced by over 75% the credit solar customers get for the extra energy they send to the grid. At a minimum, solar customers will pay an extra $11,000 more compared to the old net metering rules.
Even more problematic, the PUCN took the unprecedented step of not “grandfathering” existing customers; meaning it applied these new rules to existing solar customers. As a result, existing solar customers – who were encouraged by the Legislature, PUCN, and NVE to go solar – now face major changes to their rates. For most customers, these changes greatly reduce customers’ expected savings – undermining their investments– and in some cases solar customers may end up paying more than had they not gone solar at all. No other state in the nation has applied new charges to existing solar customers in this way.
How Can We Bring Back Rooftop Solar to Nevada?
On January 18, 2016, the Bring Back Solar Alliance filed a referendum petition that would reverse the PUCN’s anti-solar decision. Because our leaders failed to act, we are asking voters to bring back Nevada’s solar future and restore confidence in government at the November 2016 ballot.
Solar supporters are continuing to advocate before the PUCN to try to find a solution that protects solar jobs, energy choice, and all Nevada ratepayers. Most immediate, we are asking the PUCN to reverse its position on grandfathering, so that current solar customers can stay on their previous net metering tariff for 20 years, without suffering new punitive fees and charges.
Even if existing customers are protected with grandfathering, the state must take action before November, to immediately bring the solar industry back to Nevada. We are asking the Legislature to call a special session to find a temporary solution that brings solar back to Nevada. The Nevada legislature can resolve this problem by repealing the decision of the PUCN and returning the state to its previous NEM policy. The voters will ultimately have the final decision on the state’s long-term solar future.
To learn more about how to bring solar back to Nevada, you can visit bringbacksolar.org.
You can read NV Energy’s side of the debate here: NV Energy.
Our final workshop day included a group discussion following LAGI presentation of a Boma Solar design.These sketches represented the third iteration of the solar structure design, which took into consideration the architecture of the manyatta, the traditional Maasai jewelry, and the sketches that OMWA made on the first day. Photo by Tereneh Mosley
In the winter of 2015, LAGI was contacted by Tereneh Mosley, the founder of Idia’Dega, who has been working since 2013 with Maasai Women Artisans in Olorgesailie—a remote location in South Rift Valley of Kenya where Maasai are starting to feel the pressures on land use from the outside world. One of those pressures is renewable energy infrastructure for the national grid. With excellent insolation, the land around Oloresailie is already being tapped for solar energy projects, but none of the new energy infrastructure is being planned to serve the modest needs of the local community. Rather it is being installed to serve the national grid for use in cities like Nairobi.
The work of Idia’Dega in sustainable fashion has shown that it is possible to design new products collaboratively with the Olorgesailie Maasai Women Artisans (OMWA) and other indigenous groups through processes that elevate local communities and empower them to create their own economic future on the global stage. Through her conversations with OMWA, Tereneh learned that modest electrification is something that is a pressing need—contributing to security, education, communication and creative /revenue building projects. Nearly everyone goes without light after sunset and the only way to charge cellphones is to walk an hour or more in each direction and pay someone in the nearest grid-tied village.
Building on the strong relationships and design model that Tereneh has established, Idia’Dega and LAGI have therefore embarked on a collaboration with OMWA to design culturally and aesthetically relevant solar infrastructure for off-grid Maasai homesteads. On return from our first round of design workshops we are excited to report that the ideas that resulted far exceeded our expectations. Along the translation from fashion to energy infrastructure, the group quickly realized that incorporating modest photovoltaic areas into belts, bags, bracelets, and fabrics that Maasai women and men wear during the daylight hours would be a great way to provide access to electricity at all times. In addition, small-scale solar shade structures and “banda” ornaments will provide immediate access for use within the homestead.
Over the next six months we will be fundraising and working on the detailed design drawings for fabrication, with a goal of returning in December 2016 to implement and install the multifaceted project with OMWA. Stay tuned to Idia’Dega and LAGI to see the design results. While it is most important that we provide Olorgesalie with the first products of their design efforts and meet their immediate need for electricity, we will soon thereafter be offering the designs for sale to the general public. We’re certain that everyone will want to own Maasai solar wearables and residential-scale products, and the proceeds from sales will go back to the people of Olorgesailie, helping to pay for student fees and for everyday needs for food, clothing, healthcare, and shelter that often go unmet today. Access to electricity will also help OMWA nurture their creative practice and offer the ability to connect and collaborate with other artisans around the world.
Please contact us if you are interested in supporting this project.
The tiny solar light on the roof of this manyatta represents the amount of light that some of the homes currently have access to. It throws a little less than a flashlight. The manyatta’s are nearly pitch dark during the day.
Maasai women of Olorgesailie Kenya take the lead in designing renewable energy installations for their homesteads.
Illustration courtesy of TrevorJohnston.com/Popular Science via http://share.sandia.gov/news/resources
Sandia’s Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR) will make possible a new low-cost offshore 50-MW wind turbine with a rotor blade more than 650 feet (200 meters) long, two and a half times longer than any existing wind blade (imagine it stretching across two football fields). One of these turbines could meet the electricity needs of 20,000 homes.
At lower wind speeds, the blades are spread out (like the horizontal axis wind turbines that you’re familiar with) in order to maximize energy production. At dangerous wind speeds, like tropical storms or hurricanes, the blades are made to align with the wind direction, reducing the risk of damage. It may be possible that they could continue to spin like an egg beater set on its side.
The design was inspired by palm trees, which are able to survive severe storms by bending their trunks and folding their branches to align with the wind.
The LAGI 2016 design site offers an opportunity for participants to think about tidal energy technologies, their form, and their relationship to space, both above and below the surface of the water. What is the ecological impact of their addition to the sea bed?
The two major taxonomies are those that employ tidal barrage (dams) and those that catch the free-flowing tidal stream. Tidal stream type generators work very much like wind turbines, but because water is denser than air, the potential power per swept area is great.
Barrage type tidal generators—like the proposed Swansea Tidal Lagoon in Wales—tend to benefit from a sizable difference between low and high tides. It’s interesting to think of breakwater constructions and storm/sea level resiliency infrastructures as potentially serving as a tidal barrage as well.
Calling all artists, designers, architects, landscape architects, engineers, scientists, city planners, inventors, activists, creatives, policy makers, students, professionals, and everyone who cares about climate justice and harmony between people and our beautiful planet.
There is a cash prize of $15,000 for the 1st Place winner and $4,000 for the 2nd Place winner.
LAGI 2016 invites you to design a large-scale and site-specific work of public art that serves to provide zero-carbon electricity and/or drinking water at scale to the City of Santa Monica, while capturing the imagination of the world and inspiring us all about the beauty of our sustainable future.
the LAGI 2016 design site
Spend some time with the complete LAGI 2016 Design Guidelines document. With a coastal site comes many new opportunities to incorporate solar, wind, wave, tidal, and other technologies as the medium for your artwork.
The 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative is free and open to anyone. In order to make that possible we rely on the generosity of people like you.
If you appreciate the work that LAGI is doing to promote sustainable development and the arts—both in education and in the built environment—please consider a tax-deductible gift to help make LAGI 2016 and our educational content possible.
the LAGI 2016 design site
We are living at a critical moment when the power of human imagination is needed like never before—both to provide new solutions and to communicate a message of positive change. The Paris Climate Accord has united the world around a goal of 1.5–2° C, which will require a massive investment in clean energy infrastructure.
LAGI 2016 is meant to provide a positive and proactive vision of how these new infrastructures can be enhancements to our most cherished places. Whether providing clean and renewable electricity to power our homes and automobiles, or providing the clean water so vital to our survival, public services are at their brightest when they can be a celebrated component of urban planning and development.
LAGI 2016 is an opportunity to present your vision of what our energy landscapes can aspire to be in their built form.
Please take some time to look around this blog for past articles about the intersection between art and energy, and emerging clean energy technologies that may be interesting to incorporate as media for public art.
Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry
LAGI Founding Directors
See below for a great opportunity! This is not related to LAGI 2016. USGBC-LA is a LAGI 2016 partner and we want to make sure everyone knows about their LEGACY PROJECT competition.
Los Angeles, CA (December 10, 2015) Today, the U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles(USGBC-LA) Chapter is launching the competition to create a Legacy Project, to be unveiled during Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, October 5-7, 2016 in Los Angeles. The Greenbuild LA Legacy Project, which will be built, is a gift from the national USGBC and USGBC-LA Host Chapter to Los Angeles for hosting the conference and will be a permanent and enduring means of service, education and thanks to the local community. The Request for Proposal (RFP) can be accessed athttps://usgbc-la.wazoku.com/with the due date of January 27, 2016. The project must be completed, i.e. built and delivered, by September 1, 2016.
Along with the Legacy Project, people also have the opportunity to submit Spotlight Ideas, ideas that serve similar goals to the Legacy Project, but may not yet be feasible or deliverable. Spotlight Ideas submitted to the website are intended to encourage people to dream and help foster, support and grow great Legacy Project ideas into full RFP submissions through community engagement. Selected standout ideas will be eligible to showcase at Greenbuild 2016. To submit an idea, see due dates and criteria, and learn how to build support, please visithttps://usgbc-la.wazoku.com/ .
The theme for the Los Angeles conference is “Iconic Green”, drawing on LA’s status as home to some of our nation’s and the world’s most iconic imagery, talent and landscapes, and submissions should consider what ‘iconic’ means for their project / idea. Both the Legacy Project RFP and Spotlight Ideas are open to all, and there is no submission fee. The ideal legacy project submission should be permanent, scalable, service varied socio economic backgrounds and be accessible to a larger general audience among other carefully chosen criteria.
“We are so excited to help guide the Legacy Project for Los Angeles,” state Greenbuild 2016 Legacy Project co-chairs Coomy Kadribegovic of AECOM and Maya Henderson of Bentley Mills. “Both the final Project and the Spotlight Ideas provide people from across L.A. the chance to inspire and be inspired by others, address an important green building issue, and stimulate change, idea by idea.”
Adds USGBC-LA Executive Director Dominique Hargreaves, “The final Legacy Project, in particular, will contribute to greening the local area, while also offering a visual explanation of why a sustainable built environment for all communities is so vital to our existence. The USGBC-LA is committed to transforming L.A. into a sustainable region through education (the ‘why’), innovation and action, and having Greenbuild and this project here will hopefully get a lot of people to take an active interest.”
Past conferences have sponsored projects that continue to serve their communities long after the attendees from Greenbuild have departed. These projects include an interactive playground in Philadelphia, a green building educational center in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, and a new urban food studio in Washington, D.C.
Greenbuild, held in a different city each year, attracts over 30,000 global attendees and includes the largest green building expo, numerous education sessions, workshops and speakers, a Legacy Project and tours organized by the local chapter (USGBC-LA), art installations, and adjacent events. There are many opportunities to be involved in Greenbuild for anyone interested in a sustainable built environment. For developing information, please visitwww.usgbc-la.org, or contact Dominique Hargreaves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The website is made possible thanks to a unique media partnership with Wazoku (www.wazoku.com), a leading collaborative idea management software company. Idea Spotlight, Wazoku’s flagship product and the basis of the Legacy site, empowers enterprise, public sector and third-sector organizations to innovate and achieve their organizational goals through structured, managed, measured and sustainable collaborative idea management, open innovation and stakeholder engagement programs. “We are excited to support Greenbuild as it seeks to uncover innovative ways to improve the built environment in and around Los Angeles, engaging its members, partners and the general public.” says Simon Hill, CEO of Wazoku.
To the attention of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretary General Christiana Figueres and the Mission Innovation initiative spearheaded by Bill Gates and 20 Global Leaders:
(on the occasion of Day 2: Innovation in Action of the COP 21 Sustainable Innovation Forum)
Since 2010, the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) has been inspiring the world with a new vision for the design of our clean energy future. The goal is to design and construct public art installations that have the added benefit of utility-scale clean energy generation, with each sculpture providing power to thousands of homes. We have amassed a network of thousands of professionals around the world and across disciplines from art, architecture, renewable energy science, engineering, and land use planning to proactively address the visual impact of post-carbon infrastructures on the constructed and natural environments.
As the winner of the 2014 LAGI design competition for Copenhagen shows us, we can make our cities more beautiful and sustainable at the same time. Let’s take this opportunity and the momentum of COP 21 Paris to create new economic development engines for our cities, centered around landmark works of public art that declare their commitment to a low carbon future, while actually serving to offset their reliance on carbon infrastructures and educating the public about new clean technologies.
As Connie Hedegaard, former EU Commissioner for Climate Action, puts it so eloquently in her statement on LAGI 2014 (video below), we need to move past the “doom and gloom” messaging of climate science and give people a positive vision that moves them to want to live in a 100% renewable energy world.
We would therefore like to propose a global design competition between the 20 participating Mission Innovation countries to design and construct the most visually inspiring, conceptually profound, and technologically innovative work of public art that also serves as functional clean energy infrastructure (each with a nameplate capacity of at least 5 MWp). As a part of COP 26 in 2020, the winning design will be announced and the technological innovation(s) behind it made public.
LAGI 2020 COP 26 will be a natural progression for the LAGI biennial design competitions and will result in the construction of real net-zero energy infrastructure in twenty destination art sites (urban or rural) with combined annual capacity of approximately 140,000 MWh or offsetting the energy needs of 20,000 homes.
The artworks themselves will give each host country a sense of pride to go along with their strengthened commitment to GHG reduction goals and will offer a powerful way for the UNFCCC and Mission Innovation to communicate progress and the outcomes of the negotiations process.
Art has the power to speak directly to the hearts of people and create a momentum for political will to action. For decades the environmental art movement has presented powerful messages that have opened people’s eyes to the severity of climate change. With a progression from Kyoto to COP 15, artist engagement with UN Climate negotiations has been consistently expanding. ArtCOP21 has had the greatest impact yet, with coordinated efforts by organizations such as COAL, Cape Farewell, Carbon Arts, the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, and dozens of other institutions.
The time is now to also give creatives the opportunity to have a direct influence on the very infrastructures that are needed to solve the problem. Twenty ambitious solution-based art-as-infrastructure installations can set the stage for the next 100 years of cultural and technological evolution and point the way to a 100% renewable world.
The Land Art Generator Initiative is offering to manage (not-for-profit) the entire competition process turnkey on behalf of all project partners, including competition management, design management, and construction management. All that we ask is for the cooperation of the UNFCCC and the dedication of the 20 participating Mission Innovation countries to deliver their innovative and visually engaging infrastructures in time for COP 26 2020.
Thanks for the work you do on behalf of the climate.
Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry
With LAGI 2016 focusing on a coastal site, we thought it would be interesting to highlight this project in Toronto that is demonstrating a new kind of compressed air storage.
The project maintains a small ecological footprint by using horizontal drilling techniques to connect to deep water where the pressure is equal to that of the air being stored.
click link for image source
The new technology being tested by Hydrostor in Toronto estimates 80% efficiency (energy extracted/energy stored) and can be applied to any coastal condition to help with intermittency (solar & wind), load balancing, reserve capacity, and peak-shaving needs of the regional electrical grid.
Via Fast Company. Article includes the original video embed and image.
Since the first exhibition of LAGI in 2009, which introduced the concept of artwork powering cities, and the early educational content we began to create that year in preparation for the 2010 launch of our first (what was to become biennial) open call ideas competition, the vision of the land art generator initiative has been to provide a glimpse onto a world powered by renewable energy that is also rich with visual beauty and wonder—where the very machines that can bring our climate back into balance have cultural relevance in their formal expression and add wonder to our joyfully sustainable lives.
With the help of thousands of creative individuals working across disciplines and submitting proposals to our 2010, 2012, 2014, and soon 2016 design competitions, the LAGI project has planted a seed that is starting to really grow.
What is really exciting to us now is that all of these projects are coming together as a comprehensive program for cities around the world. We’re now in a position where we are able to call back participating teams in previous LAGI design competitions and bring them in on site-specific commissions and invited design competitions. From the start of the project the mission has been to construct as many of the the land art generator ideas as possible and make the beauty of our renewable future a reality today. The recent award of the J.M.K. Innovation Prize comes to LAGI at the perfect time, when we are starting to implement designs and consult with cities and communities on site-specific solutions to energy opportunities.
We believe that there is no better tool for creating a tipping point to strong climate action and 100% renewable energy infrastructure than to present a positive vision to the public of what that could look like and the residual benefits that such policies would bring to cities. The opportunity to bring new energy technologies into city planning and creative placemaking projects is at the heart of LAGI. As a part of the design and implementation of constructed works, LAGI educational programming provides the perfect platform for extensive community engagement and participatory design processes, leading to infrastructures that benefit the greatest number of people. LAGI Glasgow is proving to be the perfect example of this ideal delivery model.
In early 2013, we received an email from Chris Fremantle, producer, researcher, and founder of ecoartscotland. Following on conversations he had as a part of Creative Carbon Scotland’s Green Teas(e) — part of the European Green Arts Lab Alliance project, Chris wanted to know what it would take to bring LAGI to Scotland in 2015. From the start he was interested in customizing the planning of LAGI Glasgow to reflect the complexities of the debate around renewables and their relationship to key environments in Scotland. The success of renewable energy implementation there since the early 2000′s has figured heavily into land use and conservation discussions and has been extremely relevant to the independence debate.
We soon learned that Glasgow was celebrating its year of Green in 2015, and that there were a number of regeneration projects in the early stages of planning into which the creative integration of renewable energy infrastructure would be a welcome addition. By collaborating with a regeneration consortium on the design brief, LAGI Glasgow could help to inform the planning strategy itself.
With the support of the Glasgow City Council and Scottish Canals, the regeneration site at Port Dundas was identified as the preferred focus area for LAGI Glasgow. Our project partners immediately saw the benefit of using cultural approach to the renewable energy plan to inform the regeneration planning process. With a mandate to deliver a very pragmatic and constructable concept design outcome, we decided on a new competition model that could best leverage local and international expertise, while laying a strong groundwork for implementation.
The LAGI Glasgow project is undertaking research and development to better determine the role of innovative site specific renewable energy infrastructure in 21st century city planning. Community engagement will inform the concept development and seek to address issues of social justice and energy democracy. Primary and secondary school students around Glasgow are participating in the LAGI Youth Design Prize and we’d like to hold an Art+Energy Camp along with a youth ambassador program for 2016 that will provide young Glaswegians the opportunity to learn from the design team directly. Integration of these programs into the design process for Port Dundas is a key component of the overall strategy. Together the LAGI Glasgow project partners hope to set an example for cities around the world to follow, combining creative energy planning and STE(A)M education.
New interdisciplinary teams have been formed, comprising Glasgow-based and overseas expertise. The overseas expertise with extensive knowledge of mainstream and emerging renewables technologies have been drawn from previous teams whose proposals have been shortlisted in LAGI design competitions over the past three cycles (2010 United Arab Emirates, 2012 New York City, and 2014 Copenhagen). Glasgow-based expertise brings an understanding of recent innovative and creative practice, local knowledge and capacity.
We’re thrilled by the reception of the LAGI idea in Scotland and by the vision conveyed to us by Glaswegians of their future city. Representatives such as Bailie Elizabeth Cameron are providing us with new perspectives on the relevance of the project and inspiring us with their passion and commitment to sustainable development models that put people at heart of every decision. People make Glasgow, and Glasgow is re-making the land art generator initiative.
The Land Art Generator Initiative has been awarded the J.M.K. Innovation Prize, a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund
“Launched in early 2015, The J.M.K. Innovation Prize was designed to seek out boldly promising ideas in the field of social-sector innovation—however untested or wherever they arise.”
We are very fortunate to be one of the ten awardees. We’d like to extend our thanks to, and share this recognition with, the thousands of participants in LAGI design competitions, whose amazing innovations make LAGI possible. The above image is composed of thumbnails of the work that can be seen in the online LAGI portfolio.
The J.M.K. Innovation Prize will allow LAGI to expand consulting and project management work in cities around the world that are seeking creative ways of integrating sustainable infrastructures into regenerative planning and projects.
Over the next few years, LAGI will be working closely with our design partners (past LAGI design competition participants) on the detailed design and construction of many regenerative public art installations at various scales and site contexts.
The Prize will also help to support the 2016 LAGI Design Competition for Southern California. LAGI 2016 is re-imagining the coast of Santa Monica by inviting individuals and interdisciplinary teams to design a large-scale, site-specific work of public art that also serves as clean energy and/or drinking water infrastructure for the City of Santa Monica.
The Importance of LAGI
We’re helping to educate the next generation of artists, architects, engineers, city planners, landscape architects, designers, and scientists, who will find greater innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration and creativity. The LAGI design challenge provides project-based learning in STEM subjects through engagement with art and creativity.
As we work together to design and implement a post-carbon world, the impact of sustainable infrastructures on the constructed environment is becoming an important focus of city planning and architecture. At the same time, a culture war over land use has slowed the implementation of many proposed wind and solar installations.
By engaging communities with an inspiring vision of our sustainable future and providing context-specific solutions for sensitive sites, we would like to help turn the tide of public discourse and bring about universal support for immediate investment in 100% renewable infrastructure.
The J.M.K. Innovation Prize process of selection was its own innovation in philanthropic award management (as a project that designs and runs competitions, it’s a subject that LAGI is interested in!). 373 volunteer reviewers were recruited from the Fund’s network to review 1,138 applications from 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Each application was scored by at least 6 reviewers, after which 202 entries were advanced to the second round. More complete applications were read by subject matter and social innovation experts in disciplines including justice, education, human rights, food systems, public health, energy, natural resources, and the arts.
We congratulate the J.M. Kaplan Fund on their development of the J.M.K. Innovation Prize and thank them for their generous support.
LAGI will be at the Living Product Expo September 17 & 18 (2015) at the Pittsburgh Convention Center.
The LAGI founding co-directors will be speaking at the event from 5:45–6:00 pm on Thursday the 18th.
The WindNest 1/4 scale prototype will be displayed along with several past LAGI submissions, showing the world that renewable energy can be beautiful.
About the WindNest Prototype
WindNest is designed by Trevor Lee of Suprafutures to passively rotate to face the wind just like a weather vane. To test the functionality and to experiment with the ball bearing mechanism design, a prototyping team under the direction of GTK Flow Analysis fabricated this 1/4 scale model and subjected it to a series of tests under different wind conditions and speed sequences.
The full-scale installation will incorporate a slip ring to allow for continuous rotation while conducting the electricity produced by the turbines and solar fabric.
The prototype also provides the opportunity to experiment with the structure of the cloud pods and will assist with the design of the fabric skin.
About the Living Product Expo
In early April, 2015, the Living Future Institute launched the Living Product Challenge. This new program re-imagines the design and construction of products to function as elegantly and efficiently as anything found in the natural world. The Living Product Expo is a groundbreaking new event that will bring together leading minds in the product industry and ignite a revolution in the way materials are designed, manufactured and delivered. Sustainability directors from the world’s leading design firms, prominent manufacturers and sustainability consultants will gather to learn about game-changing innovations in product design.
The Expo will assemble a diverse group of people, industries and disciplines. Together, we will engage in a transparent, transdisciplinary and transformative dialogue to inspire the creation of the world’s first Living Products. Participants will gain new tools, knowledge and connections to effect positive change in their organizations and supply chains.
The Living Product Expo is the world’s leading place for design and manufacturing professionals to learn about game-changing products that will transform the marketplace. It will be a unique opportunity for manufacturers and designers (of all sizes) to network, learn from one another and aggregate market power to create transformative impact. Attendees will experience a stimulating agenda of education tracks, inspiring keynote presentations, tours, networking and Show + Tell product demonstrations showcasing the latest trends in sustainable products.
For the past six weeks we have had the great fortune of spending every weekday with 20 of the most brilliant kids in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood. Yesterday, we all celebrated the final outcome of the Camp—Renaissance Gate, Pittsburgh’s newest work of public art and a 4.1 kWp solar energy installation on Frankstown Avenue.
The artwork helps to power to Homewood Renaissance Association’s new community center next door and provides passersby with a place where they can charge their cellphone during the day while catching some shade under the armatures of the installation.
The form of the artwork was inspired by the shape of the violet flower and by the way that the existing unused marquee at the site resembled a kind of gateway. The campers were already familiar with the concept of the Torii Gates of Japan, which symbolize a spiritual passage or journey. Renaissance Gate, the kids decided, would be a passageway to a new Homewood—a community of hope and progress, or what Free Blackwell, the Executive Director of Homewood Renaissance Association likes to call, “the most livable neighborhood in the most livable city.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto imparted even more meaning to the title of the artwork when he spoke at the August 13th opening ceremony just before cutting the red ribbon. He reminded us that the original renaissance in Europe marked a turning point from a period of fear and violence to a period of progress and hope in the future. It was the marriage of the arts and sciences that made Europe’s renaissance possible. The Art + Energy Summer Camp is an expression of the power of that combination and the importance of STEM to STEAM initiatives in education.
Over the course of the six week Camp the participants, ages 8–17, learned about energy science, art, and design.
Week one consisted of field trips to understand the existing landscape of energy production and consumption in Western Pennsylvania. We visited the Bruce Mansfield coal-fired power plant and the Beaver Valley nuclear power plant. We spent a day at Eden Hall, Chatham University’s sustainability campus where we saw a large solar installation at work and learned about solar thermal heat, aquaculture, and on-site wastewater treatment with engineered wetlands.
We visited Conservation Consultants Inc.’s building, one of Pittsburgh’s first green buildings, to learn about energy efficiency and to see their rooftop solar installations. We visited the new Energy Innovation Center to see their ice storage system and other advanced green building technologies. Other field trips included a visit to a local residential solar installation (thanks Fred Kraybill), and Construction Junction and Creative Reuse, where we learned about how to reduce waste streams and divert used goods and products from landfills.
Fun activities expanded vocabulary and engaged campers in the use of energy conversion efficiency and capacity factor to estimate the average annual output of energy installations.
Weeks two through five continued the lessons on art outside the gallery and the steps of the design process. At the same time the campers began to come up with their artistic concept and sketch the form of what would become the Renaissance Gate.
Some worked with paper and dowels on a 1” = 1’-0” scale model of the existing marquee. Others free-form designed with clay, while some of the older kids manipulated the solar panels in Google Sketchup.
A visit from David Edwards, a local artist and inventor, stimulated our imaginations with the endless possibilities of incorporating solar and wind power into artwork.
By the end of week three it was time to meet up with Tim Gerhart, the structural engineer, and Fred Underwood, the solar installer. Their input was invaluable as we worked together on the final design drawings.
During weeks four and five we were in full-swing with the fabrication and installation! VB Fabricators was able to deliver the finished structural steel armatures in a very short amount of time, and by the start of week six Underwood Solar was installing the solar panels and getting everything wired up. The campers really enjoyed being a part of the installation process, from framing up the panels to the aluminum rails, prepping the colorful panels, and even helping to dig the hole in the ground to examine the existing foundation (Imani and Terrell both found this to be their favorite part!).
We finished up just in time for the ribbon-cutting event with Mayor Peduto. We’re so glad that he was able to take the time out of his busy schedule to attend and speak on the importance of renewable energy and energy justice for communities like Homewood. Daniel Moore with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wrote a great article that captures the energy of that wonderful day.
A highlight of the day’s festivities was a live performance of “Solar Energy” an original rap by Jordan Blackwell and DaVontae Garner. You’ll definitely want to give it a listen in the player below. It is a brilliant anthem for energy justice.
The kids have been a driving part of the entire process. They have helped with documentation, social media, design, and meetings with consultants. When challenges presented themselves, the campers were there helping us to brainstorm solutions. The outcome for them goes beyond this particular solar artwork. In a sense, we have graduated project managers. It’s our hope that they’ll be able to apply this experience in all walks of life.
And we hope that the Renaissance Gate will be cherished by the community as a symbol of what can be accomplished when we all work together towards a brighter future. As Mya Lane put it, “I feel the Renaissance Gate should inspire the community that in Homewood you don’t always have to use violence—and it’s a very nice community and it should be represented as one. The Renaissance Gate should stand for peace, non-violence, truth, justice. It should bring us and make us realize that we are all the same and one big family.”
We’re so grateful to our funders who made this project possible: Heinz Endowments, Google Community Grants, and Three Rivers Community Foundation.
Thanks to all of our camp participants: Jordan Blackwell, Canaan Blackwell, Adrian Nanji, Ewane Nanji, Thomas Bowens, Mya Lane, Sarai Robinson, Emani Jones, Elizabeth Blackwell, Jordan Woods, DaVontae Garner, Terrell Williams, Lamonte Farrish, Cameron Jennings, Madison Wilson, Erin Shealy, Caleb Williams, Imani Nanji, Elisha Blackwell, Jasmine Berry, with teachers Rodney Heard, Indigo Raffel, Robert Ferry, and Elizabeth Monoian.
Understanding this research coming out of Columbia University, might make your mind explode. The implications of this are potentially far-reaching, but the research is still in an early stage and just beginning to get public attention. It doesn’t even have a name really yet. How about “evaportricity”?
Wherever there is water there is evaporation. It happens all the time, sun up and sun down. It is a manifestation of the molecular energy that exists in all water above absolute zero. Until now, the power of this natural phenomenon has never been converted into other forms of energy. This new research is showing us that evaporation energy can be successfully converted to kinetic energy (and then into electrical energy) and that the technology can be scaled.
When evaporation energy is scaled up, the researchers predict, it could one day produce electricity from giant floating power generators that sit on bays or reservoirs, or from huge rotating machines akin to wind turbines that sit above water, said Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D., an associate professor of biological sciences and physics at Columbia University and the paper’s lead author.
“Evaporation is a fundamental force of nature,” Sahin said. “It’s everywhere, and it’s more powerful than other forces like wind and waves.”
As a side benefit to this new technology, wherever it is installed (ideally on the surface of a body of water) it keeps water in a closed loop without releasing it to the air. In other words, this technology could be installed on top of water reservoirs to generate electricity while also conserving water. They are still a long way from commercializing this, and they will need to move beyond the use of spores, but still it is impressive.
Who can imagine what these evaportricity infrastructures will look like when they are scaled up to power our cities?!
In Tehachapi California a new experiment in wind power is being tested. GE is applying a large dome at the rotor hub of three-blade horizontal axis wind turbines. The 60 ft. diameter space frame attachment channels the wind to the perimeter of the rotor where it produces more power.
The 20,000 lb structure can help to increase the power output of existing turbines by around 3%, which has the potential to bring the cost of wind power down significantly below its already low cost. Interestingly, it could also impact the form of future blades, allowing them to be designed for greater output without increasing the overall diameter of the rotor. This is important because the size of wind turbines has increased to the point where it is already very difficult to transport the blades to installation sites.
The ecoROTR is in some way like the Compact Acceleration Wind Turbine (CWAT) experiments that channel the wind to the blades from the perimeter of the rotor, but instead it is working at the center, which potentially means less material cost. The added material cost of the CWAT rings has made it difficult for them to compete in the marketplace.
Of course LAGI is in favor of the compact acceleration idea being applied to public art applications and many past LAGI submissions have incorporated some variation of it.
We’re really excited about this advancement. It’s not every day that there is such a dramatic shift in the form of wind turbine design. If the ecoROTR experiment proves successful it could have a reverberating impact on the design of our energy landscapes. As these new rotor hubs are added on and as blades take new shapes, future wind turbines may look very different than current models. The elegantly thin profile of today’s turbines are nice, but perhaps there are opportunities here for creativity?
We modified the image below just ever so slightly to get a feel for what might be possible for the turbine proboscis of the future!
We were awed yesterday on our way through El Paso, Texas yesterday when we drove through this dynamic piece that frames the I-10 corridor near the airport. It was that perfect time of day when the lighting was set off against a deep blue sky. The vertical axis wind turbines with overlapping blades in perspective provides a complicated visual moiré effect that reveals its secret as you pass through the installation.
Vortex Bladeless wind power is making big waves this week with articles in Wired and The Verge. Check out those articles for more information about the technology and some insightful comments from the Vortex team.
We’ve been following Vortex for some time with the hopes that 1. the full scale installations will be wildly successful, and 2. they will inspire creative applications of wind energy installations that can be placemaking contributions. Who wouldn’t want to hang out in a park with these simple and elegant objects?
Photo: Copyright Dia Art Foundation, New York
We also think it’s interesting to compare the formal expression of a field of these Vortex Bladeless installations to that of The Lightning Field, 1977. Walter De Maria’s sublime land art work is the kind of art that inspired us to conceive of the Land Art Generator Initiative in 2008. The piece in the high desert of western New Mexico incorporates 400 polished stainless steel poles in a grid array measuring one mile by one kilometer. It is intended by the artist to be experienced over a long period of time and visits to the site require an overnight stay. While the gesture to the sky from the earth seems in our minds to be a temptation to lightning, we do not need to witness a lightning strike to have a full experience of the artwork.
We’re looking forward to the day that someone catches a photo of lightning striking the Vortex Bladeless array (although that will probably require some repair work).
Vortex Bladeless uses the phenomenon of vorticity to generate vibrations that are converted into electricity.
We are pleased to announce that in addition to our professional design competition in 2016 we will also be holding a special STEAM Prize for students. Get more information at http://youth.landartgenerator.org. And check back on August 15th to get started!
Thanks to all of our partners and to our wonderful team—experts in public art and education. Together we are getting ready for the August 15, 2015 launch of the complete Youth Design Brief and a complete Toolkit for Educators that will guide students and teachers through the design process from start to finish, and that is aligned with the most up to date educational standards in STEAM subjects.
The Toolkit will contain a series of fun activities like the LAGI Idea Generator Game that will help students design their own land art generator artworks. In addition to this Toolkit, we are available to help you every step of the way.
Bringing STEAM education to middle school and high school youth seamlessly through the arts is an engaging way to instill an early interest in the scientific method, provide useful technical skills, and introduce systems thinking. Our goal is to build a global community of young people who are inspired and equipped to design the landscape of our clean energy future.
LAGI 2016 STEAM PRIZE Objectives
Examine and comprehend interdisciplinary information about public art and energy generation
Identify, describe, and analyze the ways in which electricity is generated and consumed
Learn about energy conservation
Learn about different types of energy generation technologies
Apply aesthetic decisions pertaining to color, line, and form in the conceptualization of new machines for energy generation
Understand the difference between peak capacity and productive output for different renewable energy technologies
Apply capacity factor to determine estimated annual outputs based on nameplate capacity
Successfully guide students through the design and engineering process in order to conceptualize an artwork that utilizes renewable energy technologies
Meets these academic practices
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
Katie Henry is a super star teacher at Brookville Intermediate in Ohio. We have so much admiration and respect for her teaching strategies and we are learning a lot from our collaboration with her during the planning of our LAGI 2016 STEM educational outreach programming. If you want to learn more about cutting-edge educational leadership strategies, please take the time to watch this wonderful interview.
The WindNest team continues to grow and the project keeps getting better as the engineering details are worked out. Schematic design is now complete and the public approval process is underway with the City of Pittsburgh.
Trevor Lee at Suprafutures has done an excellent job of adapting the concept to its new site and the design continues to evolve in response to stakeholder and engineering feedback.
A revised completion date has been established for the Spring of 2016.
Please check back here for updates. We’ll provide a complete list of project partners and a detailed timeline once the project has the green light from the City.
We recently completed the fabrication of the prototype of one of the “nests” at approximately 1/4 scale. Thanks goes to Chris Williams at Steeltown Design for putting it together. We’ll begin testing as soon as the weather breaks in Pittsburgh. The results, along with a desktop computational fluid dynamic model analysis, will inform the next stages of design.
The prototype was built purely to measure performance. Lots of shortcuts in fabrication. Final version will look much more like the renderings and we are engineering the skin to not have the ribbing effect on the fabric.
Thanks to Deborah Hosking for shooting and editing this fun video of us moving the prototype to its winter storage location.