Chartreuse Blog

Green Drinks Goes Dry in October
October 20, 2009, 1:58 pm
Filed under: Local Green Events | Tags: ,

On October 24, people all over the world will be taking a stand for climate change.  In four days, in over 160 countries, over 3700 actions have been registered to incorporate the number 350 into an iconic place in their community.  This number represents the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere that is the safe limit for humanity. and the International Day of Climate Action’s goal is to decrease the CO2 in our atmosphere from 390 parts per million to 350:

“We are a group of people from around the planet—young and old, scientists and writers and activists—who have one thing in common. We know the most important number on earth: 350. And we know how to use that number to finally get global action on the worst crisis humans have ever faced. But we can only do it if you help.

A year ago, our greatest climatologist—NASA’s James Hansen—and his team produced a landmark series of studies. They showed that if we let the amount of carbon in the atmosphere top 350 parts per million, we can’t have a planet “similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.”

The bad news is we’re already past that number—we’re at 390 parts per million, which is why the Arctic is melting, why drought is spreading across the planet, why people are already dying from diseases like dengue fever and malaria occurring in places where they’ve never been seen before.

The good news: that number gives us a target to aim for.
When the world’s leaders meet in Copenhagen in December to reach agreement on a new climate treaty, we need them to go farther than they’ve planned to go: we need to make sure they’ll pay attention to the latest science and put forward a plan that gets us back to safety.”, the invitation

Sioux Falls is taking part in International Day of Climate Action by completing its own action.  Rather than raise a glass for October Green Drinks, join us in Falls Park to raise awareness for the environment.  Here is the plan:

“Everyone will meet at 5th and Phillips at 3:30 pm, and we’ll parade to Falls Park at 3:50 pm. Inside the Horse Barn Arts Center will be a giant banner that participants will paint their hopes for the future of SD on, and it will be taken outside where everyone will gather in the formation of a giant 350. Pictures and video will be taken that will be sent to our legislators and displayed across the globe as well as on the screens of Times Square in NYC! The banner that is made will be displayed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.

Post party to follow the action at the Falls Overlook Cafe.”

-Sioux Falls Green Drinks Website

Green Drinks is a monthly mixer organized by Astronaut and the Sioux Falls Green Project for anyone interested in conversation about all aspects of sustainability. Sioux Falls is just one of 626 cities world wide making green conversation over drinks. For more information about Green Drinks check out the website at

Plain Green 2010
October 16, 2009, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Local Green Events | Tags:

It is almost here . . . minus the long winter ahead.  Plain Green 2010!

The dates for the next annual conference have been released: April 28 and 29, 2010.  Add it to your calendar!  Learn more about Plain Green at

AIA South Dakota
October 16, 2009, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Local Green Events | Tags:

The South Dakota AIA Convention was held today and yesterday, October 15-16, here in Sioux Falls.  On Thursday afternoon, the public was invited to a sustainable treat: Joyce Coppinger of Lincoln, NE gave a presentation on “Building with Straw.”  Joyce discussed the history of straw bale construction, its environmental and human health benefits, its economical effectiveness, and general awesomeness!  She also demonstrated some design and building techniques through case studies in the United States and Europe.

If you ever want to participate in a straw bale or plastering workshop, track Joyce down at ReBuild Associates in Lincoln (or, I have her contact info if you are serious about participating in a future event!  Just shoot me an email at

Building Integrated Photovoltaics
October 8, 2009, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Green Products | Tags: ,

Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are photovoltaic materials used in place of typical construction materials within the building envelop including facades and rain screens, roof surfaces, PV tiles, and solar shingles, and skylights and solar shades incorporating transparent or semi transparent photovoltaics.  Designing with BIPV, as opposed to non-integrated photovoltaics, can offset the high initial cost usually associated with renewable energy by reducing the cost of building materials and labor during construction.

Replacing heat reflective glass or tinted glass with transparent PV glass is a new and popular option and a great way to incorporate PVs into a building, though they are often less efficient than typical PV modules.  Transparent PV glass, where you cannot see the PV film, uses photovoltaic thin film which is the least efficient of all PV technology, approx. 9%, so far.  With that being said, that doesn’t mean that it is not a good system.  PV glass systems provide other benefits compared to heat reflective glass: PV glass cuts heat, visible light transmittance, and cuts UV, meaning that it will reduce energy costs besides generating electricity. 

More efficient transparent PV options are modules where  polycrystalline cells (more efficient than thin film, approx 12-14% efficiency) or monocrystalline cells (most efficient PV technology and most expensive, approx 14-18% efficiency) are sandwiched between layers of tempered glass.  The result is more like a screen than glazing but still transmits light between cells. 

Suntech Power, founded in 2001, is an international manufacturer of photovoltaic modules with sales offices and installation partners in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.  Suntech’s America is located in San Francisco, CA and their corporate headquarters is located in China. 

Suntech has developed a range of photovoltaic options including their monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels, semi-transparent modules, and building integrated photovoltaic panels.  Their MSK Solar Design Line includes a few BIPV options such as the Just Roof Building Integrated Roofing System, See Thru Building Integrated Glazing System, and Light Thru Building Integrated Glazing System.

The See Thru system is a semitransparent photovoltaic glazing that looks like tinted glass (an example of the less efficient option) and is used for curtain walls, skylights, canopies, and other glazed surfaces.  See thru comes in 1%, 5%, and 10% transparencies.  The Light Thru system is an example of the more efficient transparent PV option.  It can be manufactured with monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells with varying cell to cell spacing.

To contact a local dealer for Suntech Power, email Suntech America at

To learn more, visit Suntech Power’s website at