The first generation of net-zero communities, which were designed to add no carbon to the atmosphere, are entering their second decade. Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZED) in London is about 15 years old now; and the first phase of Dockside Green in Victoria, Canada, is now 10 years old. In a session at the 2017 Greenbuild in Boston, Steven Dulmage with Urban Equation and Justin Downey at RNWL outlined lessons learned from these early sustainable communities and how they informed second-generation developments, such as Zibi in Ottawa, Canada, and Hazelwood Green in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.According to Dulmage, BedZED, which has 82 homes, “didn’t hit net-zero carbon projections.” While the project successfully reduced emissions from transportation — as more residents walk, bike, or take mass transit — the biomass plant built onsite didn’t work out. It ran for a few years and then was discontinued. “It wasn’t economic to run, so they converted to gas. The business case for the biomass plant wasn’t well-thought through.”Dockside Green in British Columbia, which has 26 buildings that house 2,500 people, was “built up at the front end during the recession, which was very painful for the developers,” explained Downey. While the developers used a phased approach to development, Downey seemed to say the roll-out of those phases was too aggressive. “They didn’t wait for absorption,” meaning they didn’t build to the pace of tenants buying apartments. Dockside Green / Times ColonistAlso mentioned: One Brighton in the UK, built in 2009, was the first major development built using the One Planet Living framework. While the development reduced carbon emissions by 70 percent in comparison with the average neighborhood development, that’s not 100 percent. Still, homes there sell for a 10 percent premium over comparable real estate because of their inherent sustainability and resale value. There are also other benefits: residents who move there sell their cars as they can walk and bike everywhere. No cars means much less spent on transportation and fewer carbon emissions.
Zero Mass Water makes solar panel arrays that pull clean drinking water from the air.The $4,500 arrays just launched in the United States.Zero Mass arrays could come in handy in areas where water sources are far away or scarce. Some homeowners have purchased arrays as an alternative to plastic water bottles.Around the world, approximately 2.1 billion people do not have immediate access to clean drinking water. A sustainable water startup called Zero Mass aims to make clean water easily accessible to more people around the world. In 2015, it launched its first product, Source — a solar panel array that harvests and filters water from vapor in the air — in eight countries, including Chile, Jordan, and Peru.Source is now available in the United States, CEO Cody Friesen, a material scientist and MIT alum, told Business Insider.Each panel costs $2,000 (plus a $500 installation fee) and generates an average of two to five liters of water daily, depending on humidity and sunlight. Source can work anywhere, and many arrays are deployed in deserts where water is scarce, Friesen said.Comprised of proprietary materials, the panels use sunlight to produce heat, which allows them to collect water vapor from the air. Friesen wouldn’t disclose what the materials are, but said they have an ideal binding energy for humidity.