Germany recently smashed three solar energy records, and the country's northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein is set to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources this year. One of the keys to increasing global renewable energy use is finding better ways to produce decentralized energy. To that end, Ecosphere Technologies has developed a shipping-container-size pop-up solar power station that can deliver energy wherever it's needed. And if you're having trouble restraining yourself from oversharing on social media, here's one piece of wearable technology that could help you break the habit: A pair of NYU students has developed a 3D-printed bustier that turns transparent every time you tweet.
Is there anything mushrooms can't do? We've seen lamps and furniture made from mycelium -- and now the world's first mushroom tower has sprouted in New York. The low-tech earthbag building technique just got a high-tech upgrade with the help of 3D printing technology. The Earth Home Builder is a machine that can 3D print entire homes by filling tubes with earth at a rate of 400 feet per hour. In other green design news, architect Abeer Seikaly drew inspiration from traditional basket weaving in her innovative design for solar-powered refugee tents. Each tent has its own water collection system, so they're almost entirely self-sufficient. Speaking of disaster response, a new report suggests that the devastating New Jersey boardwalk fire could actually have been caused when saltwater surges from Hurricane Sandy hit low-lying electrical and mechanical systems. Germany's University of Stuttgart recently unveiled a gorgeous geometric pavilion made entirely by robots. The structure was developed by the school's computational design department, and it's made from interlocking plywood panels. Legos continue to be the building material of choice for budding designers around the world, and a team of dedicated builders created an entire London bus shelter using 100,000 bricks. And for the perfect summer road trip, we present you with the Terrapin Camper, a gorgeous house on wheels made from handcrafted wood with a dinette that converts into a full-size bed.
Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing types of renewable energy. But what if we're doing it all wrong? A Maryland-based company has created a new concept that turns the traditional wind turbine design on its head by putting turbines at the base of a tower that generates its own wind throughout the year. The concept hasn't been tested, but the company claims it could produce energy 24 hours per day. For those of us who don't want to buy into the grid, there's an alternative: Community solar gardens allow customers who aren't able to establish their own solar power systems to buy into a solar array and receive a credit on their electricity bill for power produced by the panels. The concept is taking root in communities across the country. And if you want to power up your gadgets using renewable energy while you're on the go, there are a couple new options: Nokia is collaborating with British designer A. Sauvage to create a pair of wireless charging trousers that will juice up your phone when it's resting in your pants pockets. And a pair of college kids has developed a solar battery charger for USB devices that can be charged either by an outlet or passively via the sun. Better still, the device can be 3D-printed from any material you can find, in any color imaginable.
Bike sharing is quickly spreading to cities all over the world, but those one-size-fits-all bikes don't necessarily fit everyone -- what about the kids? Paris' Vélib just became the first bike-sharing system in the world to offer bikes for kids. In other green transportation news, the Canadian company AeroVelo recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to build the world's fastest bicycle. The team expects its new design to be able to reach speeds of around 87MPH. And south of the border, a pair of artists has created a funky-looking aluminum car that was built to run on the roughly 5,000 miles of abandoned railroad tracks in Mexico and Ecuador.