Solar panels have been big in the sustainable design and building industry for quite a while now, and this previously inaccessible technology has been getting more effective and affordable with every passing year.

According to Inhabitat, a Tokyo company called Smart Solar International has just developed an impressive new solar panel that “chases” the sun! These solar panels are made of aluminum mirror bars which rotate throughout the day to face the sun and absorb the optimal amount of energy. These new solar panels use much less silicon than previous models of photovoltaic cell panels, keeping costs down.

The article quotes Takashi Tomita, the head of the company, who says, “You can get both electricity and heat from the same device,” because the panel has an overheating safeguard that channels extra warmth and uses it to heat water. This is definitely exciting news for the sustainable building industry.

If you are looking for a custom home builder in the Colorado mountain region and want to embrace sustainable design practices, contact Trilogy Partners today!

photo via Inhabitat

by Amanda Wills Published on March 8th, 2011

Today is a big day for Waldemar Alameda. The 40-year-old injured Iraq Army veteran opened the door to his brand-new LEED-certified home in Tampa, Fla.

The home is equipped with solar panels and a natural gas tankless water heater that will significantly lower Alameda’s energy bills. Its design – featuring ramps, wide doors and an elevator – will also make for easier mobility for Alameda, who became permanently disabled by an IED explosion while serving as a staff sergeant in Tikrit, Iraq in 2007.

Spokesperson Janell Vantrease, who was on-site in Tampa today, described Alameda’s emotion as he stepped across the threshold of his new home.

“Mr. Alameda […] was teary eyed as he got a tour of his new home,” she said. “He kept talking about how lucky he was to get a second chance to start over and how important it was for him to protect our freedom during his 20-year service to the Army.”

Local and national volunteers from Rebuilding TogetherSears Heroes at Home and NextGen Home Experience assembled the modular home free of cost for Alameda. Vantrease also noted that Sears surprised Alameda by offering him a job once he is able to work.

Of the nearly 200,000 service members currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 33,000 have been wounded, according to Rebuilding Together. With the heavy load of mounting medical bills, many of these vets return to the U.S. with financial hardships, making home repairs a low priority.

Rebuilding Together partnered with Sears Heroes at Home to raise more than $12 million to provide housing for low-income veterans. Later this year, the two organizations will rebuild their 1,000th home for veterans.

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