September Scientific American: All About Green, Sustainability, Energy + Carbon

Scientific_american_september_2006_1 The September edition of Scientific American went completely environmental with topics ranging from nuclear power to renewable energy, from hydrogen transportation to sustainable building, from climate repair to carbon emissions, and from coal to advanced technology.  This issue really covered the important topics in a smart, sophistocated, and thoughtful way.  I wanted to relate some of the concepts that the magazine mentioned in its article by Eberhard K. Jochem, "An Efficient Solution."  Generally speaking, the crux of the article is that wasting less energy is the quickest, cheapest way to curb carbon emissions. 

Need for Green Building:
Swiss_re_tower_london Nearly 35% of greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, and 66% of all energy converted into a form usuable for human consumption is lost in conversion.  By improving the process whereby energy becomes usuable for human consumption, it is possible to reduce carbon emissions.  And more efficient buildings will play a role in this process.  If we assume that energy prices will continue to rise, every piece of technology that saves energy is an economic, business opportunity to be captured. 

Building Construction:
Many buildings are constructed with only the first costs in mind.  Maybe this is attributable to the process of bidding for projects, which seems to only include an analysis of the total build cost.  The life-cycle costs of a building, which would consider the operating costs, never enters into the calculation (unless developers request bids for products with green features and the life-cycle cost is implicit in the construction). 

Example – Green Renovated Apartments:
Edificio_malecon_hok_1The article mentions a project in Ludwigshafen, Germany, with 500 living spaces.  These places were difficult to rent.  So the apartments were renovated to adhere to low-energy consumption standards, which required about 30 kilowatt-hours per square meter per year.  Subsequently, rental demand for the apartments soared to 3 x capacity.  As a business person, this should ring a bell:  an automatic waiting list, pent up demand, nominal advertising as word-of-mouth grows legs, and a healthy business conscience.  Not a bad strategy. 

If you’re thinking about renovating, building, or replacing something, you should know about energy-efficient, green products before making the decision to purchase.  Here are some practical tips from the article for using less energy. 

  • Stove – Convection ovens can cut energy by roughly 20%.
  • Walls – thick cellulose insulation can prevent heat loss (winter) and heat gain (summer).
  • Refrigerator – new refrigerators use 25% of the energy required for a 1974 model (just buy all energy star electronics + appliances).
  • Compact fluorescent bulbs – uses 25% of the energy required for incandescents and last 8-10 times longer.Menara_mesiniaga_ken_yeang_1
  • Computers – LCD screens use 60% less energy than conventional CRTs.
  • Windows – Double panes filled with low-conductivity gas (w/ edge seals made of silicone foam) reduce heat flow by 50%+ . 

Overall, the entire magazine was pretty amazing and offered examples of how different buildings are saving money and energy.  Buildings mentioned include the Swiss Re Tower (London), Menara Mesiniaga (Malaysia), Edificio Malecon (Buenos Aires), ABN-AMRO Headquarters (Amsterdam), Szencorp Building (Melbourne), Genzyme Corporation headquarters (Cambridge, Mass.), and Procter + Gamble’s factory (Germany).  Go out, get a copy, and read it…you’ll be smarter for doing it.   

October 7, 2006: National Tour of Solar Homes Day

Asestourlogo119 To kick off the Natural Energy Awareness Month of October, the American Solar Energy Society (www.ases.org) will be sponsoring the National Tour of Solar Homes on October 7, 2006.  A solar home tour will happen in most states on or near this date.  Depending on the state, the tour may (or may not) have modern homes, but this will be an excellent opportunity to get first-hand information on solar energy:  information relevant to the particularities of the state YOU live in. 

Del_junco_solar_residence To find a list of links relevant to the state you live in, click here.  The tour in Texas will be in Houston and costs a nominal $10.  This looks to be an awesome tour, and as of today, there will be 8 homes with various green features.  Here’s a link to the list of homes with pictures and a description of each sustainable home. 

This is an awesome opportunity for anyone thinking about retrofitting their house or building a new sustainable house.  Why not learn from the experiences of others that have already taken the green plunge?  They will be able to talk about solar power, solar heating, cooling, passive cooling, wind power, day lighting, and other various green building technologies.  The Texas tour includes access to all 8 homes, a guide book, and a free energy efficient light bulb.  I’m thinking of taking the 5-hour drive (from Dallas to Houston) just to see some of these places and learn about the tax incentives specific to my state. 

For my Colorado readers (and there’s a lot of you), my friend in the blogosphere, Tom Konrad, Ph.d., has some good info on what’s going on in that state.  Just an FYI…

2006 National Solar Tour Sponsor Links:
U.S. Department of Energy EE/RE
Sunplan.com
Solar Today Magazine
Find Solar
Renewable Energy Access
Fronius

Blog Tagged by the Eco-Entrepreneur

The Fountainhead Well…I’ve been blog tagged by the eco-entrepreneur, Shea.  Here it goes…

A Book that Changed My Life:
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.  Honestly, I don’t agree with the concept that one can find true greatness sans religion (or one’s personal, internal inspiration), but otherwise, this book is an amazing articulation of the greatness humans can acheive, intertwined with modern architecture commentary. Other notables:  Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, Dune by Frank Herbert, Zen in the Art of Writing/The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, Autobiography of Ben Franklin, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

A Book I’ve Read More than Once:
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.  Had to do it for class, but I really like the themes expressed in this book. 

A Book I’d take with me if I Were Stuck on a Desert Island:
The Bible.  Honestly, it’s one of the biggest books I can think of and the authors pass the batton every now and then.  It offers a modicum of variety. 

A Book that Made Me Laugh:
Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen.  His stuff is non-stop, hilarious.  Some parts are more scandilious than I prefer, but otherwise, his stuff is absolutely ridiculous. 

A Book that Made Me Cry:
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.  This book really pulls at the heart strings.  Gotta read it, however. 

A Book that I Wish Had Been Written:
A personal diary of Genghis Khan.  He’s an interesting character in the spectrum of dominant world leaders, so I’d be interested to know what was going through his mind, that is, other than fleeting thoughts of goat’s milk and riding horses. 

A Book that I Wish Had Never Been Written:
I don’t know, everyone has the right to put it down on paper, so I can’t really think of anything, but I thought the recent book called "Jarhead," by Anthony Swofford, was utterly crass.  I tossed it 25% through the book. 

A Book I’ve Been Meaning to Read:
Still River by Harry Hunsicker (a mystery situationalized in Dallas real estate). 

Books I’m Currently Reading:
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and Lone Star by T.R. Fehrenbach. 

Okay, so now…I blog tag:
Tom Konrad (EE/RE Investing), Karen (Emerald Market), and Michael Davis (Dallas Progress). 

miniHome: Modern + Green Urban RV

Minihome

Introducing the miniHome.  Technically, it’s an RV, but it’s also designed for year-round living in extreme climates.  Ask the company, and they’ll tell you it’s perfect as a ski chalet, vacation retreat, cottage, guest cabin, or simple + luxurious home-away-from-home.  The base price is about $107,000 USD (max price $167,000), and if you’re thinking of hauling it around, you’ll need a vehicle that can handle a 14,000 pound haul.

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Linz, Austria Hotel Tubes – Dasparkhotel

Dasparkhotel

I was skimming through one of my favorite magazines called Architectural Review, and I noticed a really cool article entitled "Tubular Troglodytes."  I couldn’t find the article online, but I did some research on the architect and discovered a hotel in Linz, Austria with the name of dasparkhotel.  Some of the website is in German, so I found the Google Translator somewhat (not completely) helpful.  From what I understand, Dasparkhotel is a concept creation of Andrea Strauss. 

As far as accomodations, this place isn’t that bad!  You get a double bed, fresh blankets (or sleeping bags–can’t tell from the translation), lighting, moon/day light hole in ceiling, stow-a-way space beneath the bed, 220 V power connection, and an internet connection. Further, the surrounding area has toilets, showers, and a minibar & cafe. 

Each tubular hotel room was created with redesigned, standardized sewer pipes, with a diameter large enough for normal people to stand up.  Reservations for a "room" can be made online, and you use a code received via email to access the room.  Apparently, the pay rate is "pay as you wish."  I couldn’t discover whether the surrounding area services (toilet, minibar, shower, & cafeteria) were "pay as you wish"–meaning if you use it, you pay for it–or the actual hotel tube was "pay as you wish"–choose the amount and pay it.  Regardless, I think this is a great idea!

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LivingHomes Prefab in BusinessWeek

Livinghomes

This week’s edition of BusinessWeek has a feature on LivingHomes and entrepreneur Steve Glenn, founder of the company.  Glenn is a leader in the growing movement that is green prefab — modern, prefabricated homes built with sustainability in mind.  The BusinessWeek feature also includes a slide show of the first LEED-H Platinum certified home in the country, and some of photos are pictured above and below.

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