Hope is Here for the Rare Earth Elements Crisis

Molycorp's Rare Earth Mine in California
Molycorp's Mountain Pass Mine, Producing Rare Earth Materials in California. Photo Courtesy of Molycorp.com.

If you’ve read any of our previous posts on the rare earth elements situation, you know that China’s stranglehold on the market has caused the prices of fluorescent light bulbs to increase dramatically.

Today, China controls more than 95% of rare earth elements—some of which are crucial in the making of fluorescent light bulbs. China’s production cap on the mining of rare earth elements is meant to crack down on illegal manufacturing, but by doing so it’s also limiting the output of the green tech industry, among others.  See: Why are CFLs Becoming More Expensive? and Will the Future of Fluorescent Lighting be Shaky?

But now there’s light (no pun intended) at the end of the tunnel. According to this article on Forbes.com, an end to China’s monopoly might finally happen. It seems China’s latest increased export restrictions have caused the U.S., E.U., and Japan to spring into action.

As I write, 35 new rare earth projects are taking shape beyond Chinese borders, including mines in California and Canada. The possibilities are exciting—up to 20% of rare earth materials may be produced outside of China in less than 10 years. Additionally, domestic production of these elements has the potential to increase product innovation in the U.S., reinvigorate our manufacturing industry, and lower prices for consumers.

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Valuable Advice for the Green Electrical Contractor

Green Construction Market Growth 2005-2011
The green construction market has grown 41% or $58 billion over the past five years. Graphic courtesy of blog.softwareadvice.com.

Software reviewer Derek Singleton of Software Advice is at it again—this time letting us know just how important green skills are to today’s electrical contractors. The market for green construction has increased exponentially in the past 5 years, by over $58 billion in revenue. Any savvy contractor should take advantage of this booming (and lucrative) opportunity.

In his article, Derek details the abilities necessary to transition from being an electrical contractor to what he calls an “energy contractor.” It’s important to know how to install green energy systems in new structures, and also how to increase an existing building’s sustainability.

He addresses how to adapt to working with the following:

  • Solar PV (or Solar Photovoltaic) Installations
  • Wind Turbine Installations
  • Energy Auditing
  • Building Management Systems (or BMS)
  • LEED

Here’s the link to Derek’s article: Green Skills You Need to Become an Energy Contractor

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Pegasus Lighting Roundup: Extra! Extra!

The One By the Five hotel in Paris. Read on to “Other Cool Sites” for more info.

In lighting news …

A team of scientists in Switzerland conducted an office lighting experiment proving that lighting conditions have a significant impact on cognitive performance. A group of volunteers took memory tests and alertness assessments after spending time in a room with natural lighting conditions, compared with artificial/low lighting conditions. The positive effects of natural lighting conditions lasted until early evening! Remember the study on classroom lighting in Germany, and the impact the Philips SchoolVision lighting system had? 

Meanwhile, researchers in North Carolina found that LED lighting can be used as an infection killer. They are developing methods to employ LEDs to sterilize surgical tools or purify water.

According to a recent Houzz survey, today’s homeowners are prioritizing aesthetics over value in remodeling projects. Find out what homeowners plan to spend on various projects and more key drivers for remodeling on Houzz.com.

On Treehugger, Lloyd Alter posed a compelling question: Why are we putting 21st century light bulbs in 19th century sockets? Join the discussion.

In lighting tips … 

Kitchen Designer Robin Siegerman published a book titled Renovation Bootcamp™: Kitchen (Design and Remodel Your Kitchen Without Losing Your Wallet, Your Mind or Your Spouse). From her YouTube video preview – and that enticing title – it looks like it’s worth checking out! (more…)

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Pegasus Lighting Roundup: National Remodeling Month!

Photo via Apartment Therapy

Did you know May is National Remodeling Month? Must have something to do with the after effects of spring cleaning. Are you inspired to start a home project? Here’s the latest and greatest in lighting:

In lighting news … 

We’re in the midst of a revolution, according to the Washington Post. A light bulb revolution, that is. This post is a great overview of the new legislation that is changing the lighting market, addressing concerns such as mercury content, cost & environmental impact of manufacturing efficient light bulbs, and LED sticker shock. (more…)

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Seen & Heard At The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS)

We were not able to attend The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Chicago this year, but we have had a lot of fun following the Twitter hashtag (#KBIS) to stay tuned in to the latest & greatest kitchen and bath products.

Here are a few photos that caught our attention:

Top Row, Left to Right: Retractable Towel Rings by Moen; Image via @HGTV. VibrAcoustic Bath Controls by Kohler; Image via @AptTherapyBottom Row, Left to Right: Space Corner Drawers by Blum; Image via bobvila.com. Galley Sink by Roger Shollmier; Image via remodeling.hw.net. (more…)

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Light Show Powered By Bikes

This is not everyday lighting design. Unless, that is, you’re accustomed to an inspirational light show accompanying your workouts.

The photo to the right is one of British lighting designer Bruce Munro’s latest exhibits. Called Star-Turn, it’s completely interactive with mechanical components powered by bike pedals. As a participant spins the pedals, tealight candles also spin to create spiraling rays of light. The exhibit consumes no electricity at all.

Recently, Star-Turn was used in a fundraiser for Help for Heroes, an organization that aids wounded soldiers in the UK. Munro’s inspiration for the exhibit:

Two years ago I was riding my bicycle in the lanes near my workshop – it’s a very good way to keep fit. But that winter afternoon it was dark and my lights had failed, and I fell off into a ditch full of icy cold cow-poop. As I got to my feet, the idea of cycling in a warm, dry, well-lit environment seemed irresistibly attractive. Almost immediately when I got home I started sketching the Star-Turn bike. – Bruce Munro, “The Inspiration”

To see more, check out his website. Here’s one more photo of the magnificent Star-Turn:

Photos via Discovery Channel.

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Pegasus Lighting Roundup: We’re Rekindling the Flame!

“Floating Lamp” by Crealev

If you’ve been a reader around here for some time, you may remember the old Pegasus Lighting Roundups. Long ago (in the beginning of 2010, if you really want to get specific), I wrote a post each week sharing the latest and greatest in lighting news, tips, and trends on the internet. We talked about things like LED wallpaperLance Armstrong’s kitchen, and an energy-efficient home that was airlifted into Manhattan, just to name a few.

Good news. Pegasus Lighting Roundups are back!

If this is your first time with one, here’s the deal: I design Roundups to put the spotlight on other sites across the web. There are too many great resources and cool articles out there not to share! Second, Roundups are meant to be quick reads. You’ll see snippets of info and I’ll include a link so that you can find out more if you’d like.

In lighting news …

There’s an actual levitating lamp now on the lighting market. We’re not exaggerating. The shade floats in mid-air above the base via “integrating stabilized electromagnetic technology” by engineer Ger Jansen. We first spotted it on the Global Lighting blog.

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Time Capsule From GE Reveals Working 1912 Light Bulb

GE Lighting’s Nela Park Campus in Cleveland, Ohio is celebrating its 100th anniversary in April 2013. To kick off the celebration, they unearthed a time capsule this week buried in the cornerstone of one of the original buildings. Inside were photos, journals, a local newspaper, and five incandescent light bulbs packed in sand that date back to 1912.

Can you believe that one of those light bulbs worked when engineers connected it to power? GE spokesman David Schellerman said he believed the light bulb was a 40-watt tungsten filament incandescent bulb; but that it will be cleaned and tested further.

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Home Design Trends for 2012

Check out this guest post about this year’s home design trends and how they have been impacted by the recent housing crisis contributed by Lucy Massey, on behalf of Empire Today.  Thanks so much Lucy!Home Design

The housing crisis continues to impact us and has profoundly affected home design. Home design trends for 2012 reflect the changing lifestyles of today’s homeowners. While homes are shrinking in size, they are also becoming more livable, more energy efficient, and more accessible.

Before looking at the actual home design trends for 2012, let’s look at how Americans are living in the post-Great Recession era. Many young adults, with heavy student debt loads and poor job prospects, choose to live with their parents longer. Meanwhile, elderly parents are moving in with their grown children. Multigenerational living requires home designs featuring privacy, functional living spaces, and accessibility features. In addition, the economy and environmental concerns have made consumers more aware of energy consumption, resulting in an increased emphasis on sustainable building materials and energy efficient designs. Because the housing market continues to struggle, many homeowners cannot sell their homes despite their growing or multigenerational families. These factors contribute to the latest home design and remodeling trends. (more…)

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“Light,” A Short Film

If I imagined lighting as a villain in a horror film, this would be it.

In all seriousness, this short film directed by David Parker is a project intended to bring awareness to energy waste. The “bleeding” lights metaphorically represent inefficiency.

The film was shot in Los Angeles and will be projected in selected US cities on vacant storefront windows and walls in alleys as public art. What do you think?

First spotted on JimonLight, originally found on Sunday Paper.

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