Entries in Cool Construction (7)


Cool Construction: Freeways that generate electricity

The AGC Smartbrief provided the original link to a story from KCRA-TV, a Sacramento (CA) news station:

“When cars drive along roads, they vibrate the roads; and it sounds like science fiction, but scientists have developed a material that gets a charge simply from the vibration of a car or truck,” Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, explained.

It's known as piezoelectric technology. Gatto introduced the idea to state lawmakers in 2011 after learning these tiny sensors were being used to generate electricity in Israel, Italy and Japan.

“We could use our roads to generate power and maybe that power could be sold,” Gatto said. “And God forbid, we actually pave some of those roads -- which are in terrible shape.”

According to the story, a 1.5 mile stretch of two-lane highway could generate enough electricity to power 1,000 homes.

The concept of piezoelectricity involves using crystals to convert mechanical energy into electricity.  The application of installing sets of the crystals into roadways dates back almost a decade, with installations such as this project in Israel.  The California Energy Commission studied the application in a 2014 report, which recommended extended field tests to determine the costs and benefits of highway installation.  Now, according to reports, the Commission is prepared to fund multiple pilot projects throughout California.

Piezoelectricity has other fun applications too.  The Temple Night Club, a certified "sustainable" dance club in San Francisco, installed a piezoelectric dance floor, where the dancers power the flashing LED lights built into the floor.



Cool Construction: The World's Tallest Sand Castle

From Gizmodo:

Using five CAT earth movers, a group of creative builders in Rio de Janeiro constructed the world's largest sand castle, and then tore it down.  The video is pretty cool!

And for those who are truly into this sort of thing, there is also a website called TallestSandcastle.com, the online home of sculptor Ed Jarrett.  It looks like his castle was eclipsed by the most recent endeavor.


Cool Construction: Wind Knocks Down Construction Site

Many of you may have seen the video of a partially-constructed multi-family residential development being blown down by a powerful wind storm here in Raleigh on January 11.  If you haven't seen it, you should go to Ed Braz's website to watch the incredible destructive force that is a really strong wind.  And for more explanation of why the wind could do so much damage to that one building, but leave the adjacent building totally intact, go here for a good explanation in the Raleigh News & Observer.

The destruction is just the first part of the story though.  Mr. Braz -- who by trade is a wildlife photographer -- went back to the jobsite a couple days later, to film the clean-up.  By Wednesday after the (Saturday) storm, all of the debris was gone, and Toll Brothers had resumed construction on the footprint of the original building.  Very impressive, in my opinion.



Cool Construction - Apple HQ

Apple Computer is planning a new ring-shaped campus headquarters in Cupertino, California.  The Cupertino City Council is expected to vote on approving the $5 billion project today.  The details of the construction are impressive enough, and you can read more about the project here and here.

But the cool part is the look -- some have described the headquarters building as a "spaceship."  Go to this folio, and particularly this picture (both at the San Jose Mercury News website) to see.


Cool Construction:  Hyperloop

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, has come up with a new idea -- a 700-plus mph tube transportation system between San Francisco and Los Angeles, that would take about 30 minutes.  As someone who grew up in California, and did the nearly eight-hour drive many many times, the Hyperloop idea sounds really cool.  Now someone just has to design it and build it.  Fingers crossed it works, and then they can build more of them.  Mr. Musk says they would work best for city pairs less than 1,000 miles apart, which means Raleigh would be an ideal point for a pair with Washington D.C., with Charlotte, or even Atlanta.

For more details on the Hyperloop, click here and here.