Arboretum digitizes for easier access

September 25, 2013

A recent grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services has enabled the UW Botanic Gardens to update and digitize the Washington Park Arboretum’s maps and histories, allowing for a new level of access for the students and the public.

The goal is to allow access to the original paper maps and plant histories on a digital platform. The project started when Sarah Reichard, director of UW Botanic Gardens and associate professor in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Services, noticed a national trend of creating greater digital access to park information.

At the UW, smart grids put a lid on energy use

September 26, 2013

Since 2007, the Department of Energy has authorized billions in matching grants to fund smart-grid demonstration projects across the country. The University of Washington recently received $5.1 million of these funds to partner with Seattle City Light, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and McKinstry in the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, a $178 million venture spanning Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Cables, instruments installed in the deep sea off Pacific Northwest coast

September 18, 2013

After almost seven weeks at sea, University of Washington scientists and engineers have installed pieces for a historic observatory. Sitting on the ocean floor are 14 miles of cable connected to sensors, seismometers and a high-definition video camera, poised to send status updates from the deep ocean.

“It went well, we accomplished all of our goals,” said principal investigator John Delaney, a UW professor of oceanography. “It’s very exciting to see this thing coming together.”

UW engineers get grant to make cookstoves 10 times cleaner for developing world

September 11, 2013

Nearly 500 million households – roughly 3 billion people, or 42 percent of the world’s population – rely on burning materials such as wood, animal dung or coal in stoves for cooking and heating their homes. Often these stoves are crudely designed, and poor ventilation and damp wood can create a smoky, hazardous indoor environment – day after day.

Regulating electron ‘spin’ may be key to making organic solar cells competitive

August 7, 2013

Organic solar cells that convert light to electricity using carbon-based molecules have shown promise as a versatile energy source but have not been able to match the efficiency of their silicon-based counterparts.

Now, researchers have discovered a synthetic, high-performance polymer that behaves differently from other tested materials and could make inexpensive, highly efficient organic solar panels a reality.

Case Study: University of Washington-Seattle

n 2011, the University of Washington–Seattle was exploring alternative waste and recycling platforms for their campus, with Emily Newcomer, the University’s Recycling Program Manager, leading the initiative. Newcomer was seeking a solution that was easy to service, created less litter, saved staff time, and helped divert recycling and compostables. These criteria led them to BigBelly Solar.

Design and Public Health: Working Hand-in-Hand for Better Built Environments

The human condition is changing rapidly. The last century brought unprecedented shifts in the ways we obtain and use energy, communicate, travel, eat, work and raise our children. From the metropolitan scale to that of rooms and products for everyday use, many of the features of our environments today would have been unimaginable to our early forebears. The flows and cycles of energy, carbon, nitrogen and other materials, and the systems that undergird the earth’s functions are also quickly changing.