Archive for the ‘Solar’ Category
July 31st, 2009
In passive solar design, a home is oriented with the main axis running east and west so that the home faces essentially south (or north if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere). With this orientation and lots of south-facing windows, the home is passively heated by the sun in the winter. With proper window shading, the windows will stay shaded during the summer, minimizing heat gain. But what if instead of properly aligning your home for the sun, your home actually followed the sun? That’s the idea behind the Domespace Homes in France and now their sister company, Solaleya in the US. (more…)
Popularity: 15% [?]
July 5th, 2009
Written by Susan Kraemer, courtesy of GreenBuildingElements.com
If every building had a white roof, we would be able to cool the surrounding areas. That is the reasoning behind a California law about to go into effect next month requiring light reflective roofs on all new buildings. It is already the law for new flat roofs here.
Here, architect Richard Meier and his partner Michael Palladino have apparently created a design to go one further. It’s entirely white; roofs, walls, and interiors.
So this luxury design of a cool and airy Southern California beach house is glamorous and climate friendly.
Well, no. The McMansion-sized size of the thing at 4,280-sq.-ft is not so planet friendly; because it takes more energy to heat and cool a larger space. But this house would be well suited for a ground heat exchange to passively heat and cool itself with 55 degree air cooled from 10 feet under the ground.
As architects in California get closer to 2020, they will need to think more about passive cooling and heating and zero energy houses, as that will be the law by 2020. All new building must be zero energy by then.
Incorporate solar roofing on the white roof, and this could be a zero energy house.
The blue of a solar roof would visually extend right out to the ocean. (And conceal that horrible mess of mechanical contraptions on that roof.) White elastomeric cool roof paint under the solar panels would help cool the modules making them more efficient on hot days.
But are architects thinking about these things?
With 2020 almost upon us: “The beams at the roof, located above the horizontal framing, express the structural rhythm and layering of components,” explains the architect. “This cadence is repeated with the joinery of the painted aluminum exterior wall panels and modular windows. The mass of the exterior plaster walls are juxtaposed to the transparent glazed facades, creating a mosaic of layered materials.”
Blah, blah, blah.
Popularity: 22% [?]
June 29th, 2009
The heat of summer is upon us, and that means folks are cranking up the AC, making an extra batch of ice, and generally burning energy 24-7. But we need all need to continue to try to conserve as much energy as possible to save resources and slow the march of global warming. And we get to save money at the same time– nice one!
Here are the eight easy things we can all do at home to cut our energy consumption.
1. Keep your home at an eco-conscious temperature. 78 degrees is plenty cool in the house. Turn down the AC and get a programmable thermostat so you’re only cooling the house when you really need to.
2. Work with the sun to keep your house cool. Close all shutters and blinds during the day to keep the sun out– then open windows at night to cool the house and feel the breeze (if you have any!).
3. Let the air dry your dishes and clothes. The dryer and dish washer use a lot of energy– and the air does the drying job just as well. Plus your clothes will last longer. See some great clothes-drying racks here.
4. Take shorter showers and do not take baths. Hot water heating is one of the major uses of energy in any home. Showers are the way to go– and keep ’em short. Baths use much more water and heat than do baths (unless you’re taking 30 minute showers!). You can also look into solar hot water.
5. Ditch the beer fridge. It’s amazing how many homes have two refrigerators. Please do not use more than one fridge. And if you have an old model, get a newer Energy Star model.
6. Use ceiling fans rather than AC. They are much more energy-efficient and you can get very reasonably priced Energy Star models.
7. Get solar screens for your windows. These screens cut 75% of the heat coming through your windows, but don’t impact your visibility. They are really great energy savers. See solar screens here.
8. Spend one night each week in candlelight. It’s romantic, fun and inspires new conversation. If you’ve got kids, how about turning off the TV one night and playing a board game by candlelight? Clue would be particularly spooky!
Popularity: 8% [?]
June 25th, 2009
The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere will undergo a $350 million “green” retrofit that its owners said on Wednesday will make the 110-story office tower a beacon for environmentally sound space.
Plans call for the 1,450-foot Sears Tower to reduce its electricity consumption by 80 percent and water usage by 40 percent. It will be renamed the Willis tower later this summer in a deal with new tenant global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings.
To achieve the savings, owner American Landmark Properties and its partners plan to:
- Replace the 1973 tower’s 16,000 tinted single-pane windows and create a “thermal break” between Chicago’s frigid winters and hot summers and the interior.
- Install gas boilers equipped with fuel cells, which generate electricity, heat and cooling.
- Revamp the tower’s 104 elevators and 15 escalators to cut their electricity usage by 40 percent.
- Conserve 24 million gallons of water with new restroom fixtures and “condensation capture.”
- “Harvest daylight” by installing systems that automatically dim lighting based on available natural light.
- Install solar panels to heat water.
- Erect wind turbines on building setbacks, if possible.
Popularity: 13% [?]
June 12th, 2009
Green-collar workers — who include everyone from energy-efficiency consultants to wastewater plant operators — constitute a tiny but fast-growing segment of the U.S. economy, according to a study published today by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The “clean-energy economy” grew 9.1 percent between 1998 and 2007 to 777,000 jobs. While that is just half a percent of all U.S. jobs, the clean-energy economy is poised to grow significantly with financial support from the public and private sectors, the Pew report concludes.
“The nation’s clean-energy economy is poised for explosive growth,” said Lori Grange, the Pew Center on the States’ interim deputy director. “The trends include surging venture capital investment … a critical growth rate in clean-energy generation, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly products.”
About 80 percent of venture capital investments in 2008 were in the clean energy and energy efficiency sector, broadly known as “cleantech.” And while cleantech slumped with overall venture capital in the first quarter of 2009, the sector outperformed telecommunications, media and other sectors, according to an analysis of Thompson Reuters data by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.
“[Cleantech] is faring better than the rest of the venture capital sectors — that’s driven by the sense that the government policy thinking has changed radically with the new administration,” said David Prend, a NVCA director and managing general partner at the venture capital firm RockPort Capital Partners.
Indeed, the Pew report cites the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which President Obama signed in February, as a significant force driving the clean-energy economy. The stimulus includes nearly $85 billion in direct spending and tax incentives for energy- and transportation-related programs.
The report finds that job growth in the clean-energy economy outperformed total job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia between 1998 and 2007, the most recent year for which data are available. The total number of jobs grew 3.7 percent during that period, which included the dot-com boom and bust and the beginning of the current recession.
Popularity: 4% [?]