Articles - August, 2007

Do SUNSLATES Answer NIMBYs?

Single_sunslates_tile_2 This is going to be a short post, but I stumbled upon this building integrated solar technology called "SUNSLATES."  As you can see, they are low-profile roof tiles that fit on part of your roof.  To get an idea of the size, a system of 216 Sunslates will take up about 300 sq ft on your roof.  They’re installed in strings of 24, with each string having a home run cable that goes directly to the attic junction box.  That cable then gets spliced into the cable that runs to the inverter (although I’m not an electrician and can’t be 100% certain).  What’s the cost?  Roughly $13,000 per 100 sf of Sunslates, or $13.00 per watt, before any state or federal rebates.  Might be a little expensive, but I’m wondering if this kind of technology takes the "m" out of NIMBY.  Recall the recent news regarding Al Gore not being able to install solar panels on his roof?  Well, if the panels are integrated into the roof, does this shut the NIMBY up?  Via

JoT House – Handsome, Approachable Prefab?

Jot

What do you get with prefab?  (1) modular economies of scale and supposedly less construction waste, (2) labor efficient construction process, (3) ease of variability or parts interchangeability, and (4) the possibility of green, energy efficient homes, if you make that happen.  Jot Homes is backed by Yeh + Jarrard, who built the prototype JoT House in Joshua Tree (get it? JOshua Tree?) for a jaw-dropping $48 psf way back in 2004.  It seems that one of the ways they kept the costs down was by using a "central utility core" for the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry supplies.  Simple plumbing is cheaper, right?!  In addition, they use SIPs and sustainable harvested birch plywood (as opposed to fir plywood that comes from old growth), Forbo Marmoleum and cork tiles for the flooring, double-glazed low-E glass for the windows, and LED lighting technology.  Kitchen and cabinetry fixtures were all sourced from IKEA, too.

Currently, JoT House is planning some new stuff for release in early 2008 or so.  They will have the JoT Original, JoT ‘L’, and the JoT Two-story ‘Urban JoT’, with standard model prices at $210k, $260k, and $300k, respectively.  That works out to roughly $180 psf.  If you’re going after the mini-JoT, that starts at about $45k+.  And multiple mini-JoTs can be put together, too.  Let’s keep an eye out for new developments in 2008, and check the detail in some of the images below.

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Visualizing the Benefits of Clean Tech

Harnessing Wind

I have a couple clean tech articles I want to focus on.  It’s my personal belief that if we can learn and understand these technologies, we can apply and benefit from them.  The first article by BEST LIFE is called "5 Best Ways to Go Zero Energy at Home."  The article explains hot water panels, solar roofs, small wind turbines, water harvesters, and geothermal wells.  Importantly, for each technology, the generalized cost and potential benefits are explained.  If we know what the technology can do, and we can live with the price, why not talk to a professional about getting that technology installed on that next project?  That’s the way I see it. 

The other article is really an interactive web feature developed by National Geographic.  Titled "Harness the Power of Wind," the website takes you inside the workings of a wind turbine.  You can see what makes wind turbines work.  I gave it a look and figured out why wind turbines aren’t as effective here in the mountains of Salt Lake City, as opposed to locations near the ocean.  I also gave the "Try it Out" feature a try and maxed everything out.  With a 150 ft blade radius, 315 tower height, 49 mph wind speed, and 0 altitude, I’m producing 2,300 kw of power for roughly 759 homes.  I like those numbers. 

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