Brian Clark Howard covers the environment for National Geographic. He previously served as an editor for TheDailyGreen.com and E/The Environmental Magazine, and has written for Popular Science, TheAtlantic.com, FastCompany.com, PopularMechanics.com, Yahoo!, MSN, and elsewhere. He is the co-author of six books, including Geothermal HVACGreen LightingBuild Your Own Small Wind Power System, and Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater.

By John Perlin Many people believe that solar energy is a twentieth century phenomenon, untried and untested. But I discovered through writing my new book Let It Shine: The 6000-Year Story of Solar Energy that houses have been designed since Neolithic times to scoop up sunlight in winter; that over the last three thousand years people have used solar concentrators…

By Jay Egg Imagine a home in which the temperature is always comfortable, yet the heating and cooling system is out of sight. That system performs efficiently but doesn’t require extensive maintenance or knowledge on the part of the owners. The air smells fresh; you can hear the birds chirping and the wind rustling lazily…

David Bergman, a green architect, professor, and author of the new book Sustainable Design: A Critical Guide, talks about the present and future of green buildings.

In June 2011, the geothermal (earth-coupled) heating and cooling system started to fail in the emergency operations center for Sussex County, Delaware, even though the $13 million building had only been built in 2008. (Related: “Can Geothermal Energy Pick Up Steam?“) The 18,000-square foot facility in Georgetown, Delaware contains $4 million worth of electronics equipment…

Today National Geographic News published a story by Victoria Markovitz on the size and relative greeness of wind turbines. In it, she summarizes a new study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Those researchers did an energy accounting of commercial-scale wind turbines in Europe, taking into account the energy they produce as well…

“This was a real year of firsts,” Dick Williams, president of Shell Windenergy, told the crowd of hundreds in the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas Sunday evening, at the closing ceremony to the Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2012. “This is the first year we had a flash mob come dance on our stage,”…

“We used bamboo because it is light, strong, and cheap,” explained Nadim Rabbani, 18, the student leader of the Westside Engineering and Geosciences Academy team at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2012. Westside is a high school in Houston, Texas, site of this year’s annual competition, which has high school and college teams from the U.S.,…

  “We just keep at it, we don’t give up just because something doesn’t work,” said Collin Gruntman, 17, when asked why so many teams from Indiana compete in the Shell Eco-marathon every year in Houston, Texas. Gruntman, a junior at Goshen High School in Goshen, Indiana, explained that his team’s fortunes had started looking up…

“Humans are absolutely terrible at making decisions,” Steven Levitt told the crowd of participants today at the Shell-sponsored Energy Summit 2012 in Houston, Texas. For two days, the Summit brought together leading business and academic thinkers from the fields of renewable and traditional energy, plus food and water policy. Proceedings were held in the farm-to-table…