INTERNATIONAL GLIMPSES


Green lights at Vancouver

November 4 was an important date for Vancouver (in Western Canada,) and Vancouverites. This date marked the beginning of the 100-day countdown to the Winter Olympics, and Paralympics, which the city will host in February 2010.
The day was celebrated with the lighting of the second set of Olympic Rings, this time in Vancouver’s pretty Coal harbour on a waterfront.  It had a spectacular effect and set the tone for the celebrations to come.

The five rings are the same as those featured in the Summer Olympics, and are interlocking multicoloured rings. They are blue, yellow, black, green, and red in colour, representing the five continents. The important feature of the Vancouver rings at this site, and the ones which were lit earlier in the year at the Vancouver international airport, is that they are committed to energy conservation.

It is this feature that makes them remarkably “green.”  They are lit by thousands of LED lights, which are known to consume hardly eight per cent of the power consumed by regular incandescent lamps.

The rings are stated to have over 20,000 LED lights and these can be programmed remotely for various complex light shows. The rings are striking in that they are almost 14 metres by 30 metres large. Despite this and the complexity and beauty of the shows, they are not expected to be a drain on Power, given their design and usage of LED lamps.  Thus the whole venture is “Power Smart.”

The earlier set of rings, lit near the Airport have been a huge attraction not only for visitors to the city but for Residents of the city, who are making the most of the opportunity to see the facilities, and arrangements in place to showcase their hometown for the eyes of the world.

Mala Ashok

Homes made of clay, hemp, wool

Social housing tenants could soon be living in state-of-the-art green homes built from natural materials such as clay, hemp and sheep's wool, which are being pioneered as part of Prince Charles' campaign to create beautiful sustainable property.

Building work on The Natural House started in April. With a construction price tag of around £100,000 and fuel bills predicted to be half that of a traditional bricks-and-mortar home, the property is being promoted by the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, which is behind the scheme, as a realistic option for social housing. Earlier this year, Prince Charles said: “The Natural House is an attempt to introduce a new model for green building that is site-built, low-carbon and easily adapted for volume building.”

The house is expected to achieve a four-star rating under the government's Code for Sustainable Homes, the code that ranks properties according to a list of green credentials including energy efficiency, renewable materials and water consumption. The house takes 12 weeks to build instead of the six months for a traditional home, and is one of nine properties being constructed and tested at the Innovation Park in Hertfordshire. Run by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), committed to sustainability and innovation in the built environment, the site showcases new developments in green home construction and design. The Innovation Park is also home to the Renewable House, constructed with Hemcrete - made from hemp grown and harvested in the UK. Its £75,000 construction costs are comparable to a brick house. The property, has been developed by the National Non-Food Crop Centre (NNFCC), which works to introduce renewable fuels and materials into the market.

Debbie Andalo, The Guardian

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