Innovative startups managed to scoop up some hefty cash prizes in Amsterdam on Friday. In addition to RidgeBlade winning EUR 500,000 in the Green Challenge, augmented reality browser Layar bagged EUR 75,000 in Vodafone’s Mobile Clicks contest.
Ace Hotel in Portland has partnered with local distillers House Spirits to stock their minibars with limited-edition artisan spirits. In addition to gin, vodka, rum and blended whiskey, guests can also get a cocktail kit including fresh citrus, bucket of ice, cocktail shaker, jigger and martini glasses. Plus cocktail recipe cards for amateur mixologists in need of inspiration.
Launched by native Northwesterners in 2004, House Spirits Distillery makes its spirits on SE 7th Avenue, less than two miles from Ace Hotel’s lobby. Its Apothecary Line—a collection of small-batch, limited edition spirits packaged in individually numbered 375 ml bottles—is currently only available at its own Apothecary Tasting Room, and in the Portland Ace Hotel. By offering guests an exclusive homegrown product, the hotel adds a unique element to their experience while supporting the local economy. Move over, Absolut and Toblerone 😉 (More urban beekeeping, this time atop a Toronto hotel — Loews Hotels adopt local farmers.)
Just last week we covered SRS Energy’s Solé Power Tiles, which disguise solar panels as clay roof tiles. Now a similarly unobtrusive solution for cloudier climes is on the horizon. RidgeBlade is a wind-power system that can be fitted to buildings with minimum visual impact and maximum energy conversion potential. This micro-generation system employs discreetly housed cylindrical turbines positioned horizontally along the apex of a sloping roof. The slope of the roof naturally channels wind into the turbine chamber, meaning RidgeBlade can “produce electricity under low or variable wind conditions.” This high efficiency means that the system could pay for itself within a few years.
Closing the office saves money and boosts morale. The time is now.
onverting to solar energy means covering a roof in unsightly solar panels. Not necessarily: Philadelphia company SRS Energy has developed the Solé Power Tile, a roof tile designed to sustainably convert sunlight into electricity without compromising aesthetics. The dark blue tiles, manufactured by SRS Energy, are jointly branded and distributed by US Tile and specifically designed to be compatible with the clay roof tiles manufactured by US Tile. Customers who purchase clay tiles will be given the option to upgrade a section of their roof to Solé Power Tiles. When installed, the system can offset a large proportion of a homeowner’s energy costs—not to mention cleaning their carbon conscience. The tiles are available in select West Coast markets this autumn, with a nationwide rollout planned for spring 2010.
SRS Energy says that the Solé tiles, made from a high-performance polymer often used in car bumpers, are lightweight, unbreakable and recyclable. Flexible solar technology by United Solar Ovonic is embedded inside each tile, allowing them to function independently of each other. Meanwhile, the performance of the system as a whole is monitored remotely by SRS Energy and US Tile. The director of engineering at SRS Energy is J.D. Albert, who also developed the electronic ink technology used in Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader.
What’s so attractive about the Solé Power Tile system he and his team have produced is that it makes it easy for consumers to make a green choice, without having to settle for a product they find unappealing. With more tile styles and colours in the pipeline, SRS Energy could soon be enjoying a big chunk of eco-bounty, as will any other company that can remove the disincentives from sustainable technology.