Andrea Brennen

Andrea Brennen

Posts by This Writer

9 years 7 months ago

A new design-build course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers students in Architecture, Building Technology, and Environmental Engineering the opportunity to work collaboratively to undertake sustainable development projects. The course, called “Design for a Sustainable Future” was offered for the first time last year, co-taught by building physicist Marilyn Anderson, structural engineer John Ochsendorf, and architect Meejin Yoon. Students from different departments worked together to prototype, refine, and ultimately design a new green K-12 school to be built in...


9 years 7 months ago

The Press Release headlines read: “Miss America Organization Partners with EarthEra® To Green 2010 Pageant.” The plan was to reduce the carbon footprint of this year’s Miss America Pageant by using EarthEra-supplied “Renewable Energy Certificates” to offset the electricity consumed during the event and to calculate and offset Miss America’s carbon footprint during her year-long rein.

EarthEra “helps people balance their carbon impact,” which translates into two services: a...


9 years 7 months ago

While editors at Vogue debate which color will be hot in the coming season, designers at Parsons are investigating a different fashion trend: zero-waste. Zero-waste-fashion is, you guessed it, the attempt to create stylish clothing without generating any material waste. Or, in the words of Finnish designer Timo Rissanen, “fashion creation without fabric waste creation.”

Zero-waste fashionistas remind us that nearly a quarter of the fabric used in the production of clothing is scrapped as waste, generating millions of tons of garbage...


9 years 7 months ago

British engineers at GENeco have developed a working prototype of a car powered by methane gas derived from human waste. They argue that the “Bio-Bug” is a viable alternative to electric vehicles.

The Bio-Bug is a modified 2 litre VW Beetle convertible; when started, it runs on standard unleaded gasoline, but automatically switches to compressed methane gas once the engine reaches a certain temperature (and, incidentally, reverts back to petrol if the methane tank runs dry). It can reach a top speed of 114 mph, and reportedly drives like a normal vehicle and...


9 years 8 months ago

David Edwards is one of those people who makes you feel lazy, regardless of how productive you are. A bio-medical engineer by training, Edwards researches new ways to deliver drugs and vaccines to patients using aerosol sprays and dry powders. The nonprofit organization he founded, called Medicine in Need (MEND), is a vehicle for applying his (and others’) work to the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases in the developing world. Edwards also founded Le Laboratoire, a Parisian scientific-research-lab-slash-cultural-arts-institute, and (with Aurelie Edwards) the...


9 years 8 months ago

Jason de Caires Taylor is the creator of the world’s first underwater sculpture park. His works – figurative pieces sited in clear shallow water and viewable by divers, snorkellers, and glass-bottomed-boaters – function not only as thought-provoking artworks, but also as artificial reefs, designed to be colonized by various forms of marine life. Taylor coats his sculptures with a cement finish chemically designed to promote coral growth and aid in the regeneration of marine life. To quote from the artist’s...


9 years 8 months ago

While the suburban American front lawn has never been an icon of sustainability, it may have reached a new low. As a result of the recession, the housing crisis, and the upswing of foreclosures across the U.S., business is surprisingly good in an often-overlooked sector of the economy: lawn painting. There are, believe it or not, a wide variety of companies routinely hired by banks to clean up, trim, and paint the front yards of foreclosed houses. Business is booming, particularly in places like Nevada and ...


9 years 8 months ago

When it comes to reducing energy use in buildings, there are basically two camps. The proponents of “operational energy analysis” argue, as John Straube does on buildingscience.com, that “scientific life-cycle energy analyses have repeatedly found that the energy used in the operation and maintenance of buildings dwarf the so called ‘embodied’ energy of the materials.” The opposing argument is that in order to truly understand a building’s environmental impact, one must consider the full range of energy consumed across all phases of production,...


9 years 8 months ago

Mud has just about the lowest embodied energy footprint of any building material. It’s cheap (or free), natural, a decent insulator, non-toxic, and in a place like Kibbutz Lotan ( located in the desert of Southern Israel) there’s just about an infinite supply. According to Alex Cicelsky a resident of Lotan, the CCE is on its way to becoming a “national leader in the use of natural and renewable materials like earth plasters and strawbales.”

Lotan is home to the Center for Creative Ecology, an environmental education center offering...


9 years 8 months ago

The future of the proposed Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal project, a plan to refill the Dead Sea with water from the Red Sea  is by no means set in stone. In addition to the political difficulties of building a consensus amongst the three main players, Israel, Jordan...


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