Articles - November, 2006

Redondo Beach House, a Modern Container Dwelling [Video]

Redondo Beach House

If you’ve ever been to a port terminal, you’ve seen the mass quantities of shipping containers used to transport goods all over the world.  With the trade imbalance–US importing more than exporting, the containers that aren’t returned to their origin, waste away here in the US.  But there are a few creative architects such as Adam Kalkin, Jennifer Siegal, and Peter DeMaria (his home pictured above and below), who are using these containers as the basic structure for custom built homes.  The fact is, materials such as steel and wood cost big-time money and perpetually increase in price due to world demand; according to the video, Anna + Sven Pirkl are getting their 3,500 square foot home built at $125 square foot (a pittance for that area’s custom build price that ballparks at +$250 square foot). 

The LA Times also wrote an article about what the family is going to do with the home (think:  zip line + climbing wall). 

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London's Innovative Container City Video + Business Plan Question

[Total Time: 5:06 minutes] I found this informative, richly entrepreneurial video on Container City, which is a container-based urban development in London.  Here in the US, we have some work to do, to get to the point that we support this variety of innovative development.  Demand for a place to rent has been through the roof, so they added another level of container modules to rent out a few more funky flats.  The website is at the following link:  Container City

BUSINES PLAN QUESTIONS: 
I’m writing a business plan based on a container based retail enterprise.  If you have experience working with these containers, could you email me with information on the costs of acquiring a container (including transportation, rehab, + wiring for use)?  Any other information and experience that you may have with these containers is welcome!  Entrepreneurial architects, your expertise is demanded!!!

Wind Power Cards Available at Whole Foods Market

Wind_power_card

I first heard that Whole Foods was going to be selling a Wind Power Card ($15 family – 750 kWh + $5 individual – 250 kWh) from eco-entrepreneur Shea, a co-founder of Renewable Choice Energy (the provider of the Wind Power Card).  What did I do?  I went a bought a $15 card to offset my blog.  I love Typepad, but they determine my hosting situation and I can’t change that, so I wanted to offset my blog’s impact.  I’m not sure how long this will last, but that’s okay because I’ll find out eventually.  The big question is, however:  Should you buy a card?  The bloggers at boingboing equivocated, but everyone else in the country seems to think it’s a good thing.  I’ll explain what I know, but I hope you’ll continue to research the issue of offsets and wind energy credits, if you have an interest. 

First, if you want to power your home with renewable energy, you can do a few things:  green build your home, install solar panels, put a wind turbine in your backyard, use energy-efficient appliances, etc.  After you reduce your own reliance on the grid in these ways (aka, minimize your own environmental footprint), you have a few more options:  (1) you could buy electricity from an eco-conscious company, like Green Mountain Energy, that feeds clean energy into the distribution grids, or (2) you could buy electricity from your regular company and purchase renewable energy credits in amounts that offset your energy usage.  There are slight differences with each choice.  Importantly, whenever energy producers create energy, it is routed into the regional/national grid, and that grid distributes the power to individual homes.  As a result, the energy grid conducts various types of energy such as coal (primarily), solar, wind, water, biomass, natural gas, geothermal, etc.  Depending on your location, you will receive a concoction of energy from all these types of sources, but the national average concoction = Coal – 52%, Nuclear – 20%, Natural Gas – 16%, Large Hydroelectric – 7%, Oil – 3%, and Renewables – 2%. 

With wind energy credits, and more particularly, the Wind Power Card, you’re not reducing or affecting the electricity bill that comes in the mail each month.  What you do is ensure that the electricity you use is replaced onto the national power grid with wind energy.  Every time you buy renewable energy credits, less non-renewable energy is fed into the grid.  This concept is hard to grock, but it’s true.  Think of this, though:  you’re paying a premium, but if you have money to do this, why not support clean energy generation and pay for renewable energy credits?  We can’t neglect the negative externalities (those that aren’t reflective in pricing) of dirty energy such as coal.  Our energy decision will increasingly impact the way we live in the future. 

Extra Links:
A Closer Look at Whole Foods Wind Power Card Displays [Sustainablog]
Boing Boing Mischaracterizes Wind Credits, WF Wind Cards [Sustainablog]
Support for Wind Power Picking Up Speed [Nurenberg - CNN]
American Wind Energy Association on Renewable Energy Credits [AWEA.org]
Renewable Energy Credits + Offsets Certification [Texas PUCT]

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