Very Futuristic – Smart Glass is Here

English: Smart Glass Projection Screen - On

English: Smart Glass Projection Screen – On (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Mistie Dawn

Smart Glass which has been seen hinted to in American popular culture, as early as 1982 in Blade Runner, is fast gaining main stream appeal. What is Smart Glass, aka Electric Privacy Glass (EGlass), you ask? It is glass that is electrically switchable glass or glazing which changes light transmission properties when voltage is applied. Smart Glass is usually used for windows and skylights. When activated, the glass changes from transparent to translucent, partially blocking light while maintaining a clear view through the glass. Another type of smart glass can provide complete privacy when activated.

 

 

English: Soundproof Smart Glass Русский: Русск...

English: Soundproof Smart Glass Русский: Русский: Звукоизолирующее смарт стекло – включено (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

So what makes this glass of intrest to those who follow green technologies? Smart glass can darken in response to the increase or decrease of window temperature automatically, thus helping cut down heating and cooling bills. Smart Glass is another way to help make your home or building more energy efficient. The use of smart glass can save costs for heating, air-conditioning and lighting and avoid the cost of installing and maintaining motorized light screens or blinds or curtains. When opaque, liquid crystal or electrochromic smart glass blocks most UV, thereby reducing fabric fading.

 

Techie cool, I fully expect that we will hear about and see a lot more smart glass in the future!

 
Sources:

 

NYC Glassworks

 

Wikipedia

 

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Have we completely lost our minds?!

Over the next few months ShoptobeGreen will feature family friend and contributor Erin D. Erin will share with us her experience in going from a 200 year old farmhouse in the rural North East to a more eco-friendly and energy efficient 3 season cabin. We have all dreamed about living off the grid but Erin and her husband are trying to make that dream a reality. ShoptobeGreen has talked Erin into sharing their experience with our readers. We have even talked her into sharing their videos and hand draw design concepts. Please leave your comments and any advise you might have and we will be happy to share it with Erin. Erin and her husband have sold their farmhouse and have begun the process for their new cabin.

 

Present-day September 2011, cue the crickets… I like to title this new chapter of our lives:

“Have we completely lost our minds?!”

Month 1:

The land is virgin and untamed (well, recently untamed it was farmland once upon a time)… The days are long and hard on this virgin-ish land, the nights are lulled (maybe not lulled more like screeched) with the song of coyote and bullfrogs. Woods, streams, bogs and bugs… A lot of bugs.. Did I mention the bugs? Alright fine, I don’t really have a problem with bugs in general. But mosquitoes, are the bane of human existence! I really don’t like mosquitoes, who does? What is the purpose of mosquitoes? Ok ok, yes they do feed frogs, birds, spiders, etc., which is a good thing! Hakuna Matata , yada yada… But really, do we need to have so many? And why do they love me so?!

But seriously, here’s the plan. We want to build, as mentioned earlier, a small (450 to 500 sq ft) three season cabin/cottage. We want a place to get away, one we don’t have to worry about when back in the city. We will build as local, environmentally friendly and self sustaining, as possible on a $30k budget. The wood to build will come from local pine and cedar, as well as reclaimed wood if possible. To be energy efficient we will heat primarily with a wood burning stove, wood cut by my husband from hardwood trees already dead or limbs fallen. We discussed solar panels; but the winters are so long, snowy, and gray, that unfortunately we think they’d only be a vanity endeavor (if we were in the southern regions we would use solar). The structure will be facing southwest to capture as much sunlight throughout the day, the back northeast end protected by a hill, both helping to warm and protect the cabin in the cold northern winter, as well as not needing to turn on lights until dusk. A compost toilet is a must, as well as a rain harvesting system for gray water. That’s the required list as of today. I’m sure there will be more, but we are on a budget. I have to keep reminding myself this, budget budget budget.

So, what’s been done (since the sale) in the past month? A road… Not a very well done road I might add. See, getting things done well and in a timely manner is always difficult when building and/or renovating, and when it’s in a rural area it’s even more difficult. There are only so many local contractors (3), and they are always busy. We’ve previously hired the gentleman who bulldozed this road, and he did a fantastic job in the past. This time around he looked at our virgin-ish land with it’s many mosquitoes, and didn’t seem so thrilled.. We had to pay and beg him for what ended up only a single pass with the bulldozer. He had a month to do the job properly, and yes we now have a road, but it’s a very uneven potholed dirt road that needs to be smoothed out and graveled before we can start construction.

That’s it. This is how far we’ve gotten in a month. I’m hoping (wishful thinking?) that this will all be done by Autumn 2012.

Too optimistic?

cabin concept drawing
Cabin concept drawing
cabin concept drawing side view
cabin concept drawing side view

Out with the old, in with the new..

Nature trail, upstate NY

Image via Wikipedia

Over the next few months ShoptobeGreen will feature family friend and contributor Erin D. Erin will share with us her experience in going from a 200 year old farmhouse in the rural North East to a more eco-friendly and energy efficient 3 season cabin. We have all dreamed about living off the grid but Erin and her husband are trying to make that dream a reality. ShoptobeGreen has talked Erin into sharing their experience with our readers. We have even talked her into sharing their videos and hand draw design concepts. Please leave your comments and any advise you might have and we will be happy to share it with Erin. I’m sure we all learn a lot! Enjoy:

Out with the old, in with the new…Or should I say, out with a 200 year old house and in with a raw piece of wooded land. Why? Because old farm houses are beautiful, but were built without any concern for energy efficiency.  Let me start from the beginning.. In 2000 my husband and I were living in The Big City and decided to start looking for a house in a rural area, an area he knew well from his youth. Surprisingly, the perfect house found us within two weeks of looking. So we purchased, without really thinking what it meant to live full time in the country. Don’t get me wrong, we love the country and all it’s bucolic charms! But coming from the city. Well, let’s say the theme music from the early 1960’s show Green Acres was banging around in our heads for a while. We bought the house and it’s 6 acres, as well as an adjacent but separate wooded lot of 40 acres. Nice and private, no noise from the neighbor in the apartment next door- a city dwellers paradise! But, here it is- the but…Old houses need a lot of attention. Roof repair, pointing the brick, flooding in the cellar, vacuuming up flies in the spring (yes, in the country this is a huge problem), heating a drafty paradise, etc. The upkeep goes on and on, but we happily lived the country life- for 5 years. Then, we decided that while we loved our home, we love the city more… So we moved back to the bright lights and constant noise of city dwelling, but kept the house and land. It was wonderful! The best of both worlds! Right? Well…

The drive from NYC to the  house takes 6 hours, which we knew, but had to go more often than we really wanted because:
1. We constantly worried about the house in winter with power outages.
2. Worried about the basement flooding in Spring and Autumn..
3.Worried in the summer when the lawn would get too high and it would take two days to cut…
4. Just worried about the house in general….

In the end it took us 5 years to figure out that it wasn’t realistic to have an old house and not live in it. Old houses are meant to be lived in, it was time to cut the cord. We decided to sell.

And as quickly as we found and bought the house in 2000, within weeks our house didn’t disappoint in attracting a very nice couple. As of last month; Michael and Scott have made our home, theirs. It’s important that we like the couple who bought our home, since we kept the 40 acres next door to build a three season cabin/cottage. Despite what some may think of city folk, we actually like to know and get along with our neighbors :-D.. Just not hear them through the walls.