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$90 Billion or $300 Per Person [Editorial]

90billion

With the price of oil at $95 a barrel, economists estimate that U.S. households will spend an additional $90 billion on costlier gasoline.   Estimating our population at 300 million, that’s an average of $300 per person.   Between my wife and I, that means we’re giving up $600 of our economic pie to the recently increased cost of transportation, on average.

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Agro-Housing Becoming an Option for China

Agrohousing

In China, there’s a massive exodus from the rural to urban areas, but it’s controlled because the country doesn’t have enough housing for everyone that wants to live in a city.  At the same time, urbanization accentuates the air and soil pollution problems.  So, Knafo Klimor Architects proposed an agro-housing project that blends agriculture and high-rise housing in one structure.  This agro-housing project brings the food-supply directly to the building, and to the extent that residents can realize the benefits of urban farming, there is a decreased reliance on transportation for agricultural products (shopping and delivery to stores).  Plus, with the building’s integrated water capture systems, the project has the potential to reduce water consumption and runoff.  Residents could make money off the crops, too. 

This agro-housing project is going to be built in Wuhan, China.  As you can see from the renderings, the building has quite the elaborate labyrinth to control water, air, and heat.  Structurally, it will be made with SIPs and a majority of the materials will come from steel, aluminum, and terracotta — all materials that can be recycled at the end of the building’s life.  Via Dwell

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Trump's Stalled Golf, $1 Trillion Clean Energy Market, Small Wind Obstacles, Stylish Prefab, + Green City Branding (WIR)

Week in Review

Sidwell Friends School, Anatomy of a Green School

Sidwell Friends School

The Sidwell Friends School is the first LEED Platinum-rated K-12 school in the world, but what’s incredible is the story behind it.  First, it’s a renovation of a fifty year old facility.  Second, the renovation involved the students, so everyone was able to participate and learn about the benefits of a green building.  Matter of fact, about sixteen 5th – 8th graders studied the building, wrote about its benefits, and recorded an audio feature explaining each green feature.  Feel free to take the green building tour to learn about low-VOC materials, CO2 monitoring, natural light, native plants, the green roof and biology pond, photovoltaic panels, a heat recovery wheel, vertical solar fins, and the settling tank, etc.  This is quite the impressive interactive visual/audio tour.  Seriously, great work. 

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PBS e² Series Returns with Pitt, Morgan Freeman

e2 design

"How did progress take priority over human mankind? …"  I’m the proud owner of season one of e² design, a six-part series that aired on PBS last fall.  I can’t wait for the next season and it’s coming soon.  Go check out www.e2-series.com.  Brad Pitt’s back with “e² design."  This grouping of shows will feature Thom Mayne, architect of the San Francisco Federal Building; Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia; and Adriaan Geuze, lead architect of the Borneo Sporenburg development in Amsterdam.  PBS also brought on rookie, Morgan Freemen, for “e² energy."  This segment will feature Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Bank; Amory Lovins, founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute; and Dr. José Goldemberg, Brazil’s former secretary for the environment.  This is excellent video content.  Incredible content.  Unbeatable content. 

PG&E Puts $10 M Towards Ice-Based Peak Demand Energy Shifting

Ice Energy

Recently, Ice Energy, a company that makes an ice-based air-conditioning system (explained below), announced their collaboration with PG&E in California on a $10-million dollar project.  The project is called "Shift and Save," and here’s the background: in the middle of the day, when the temperature is the highest, energy demand and the cost of energy is very high.  But with Ice Energy’s product, consumers can "Shift and Save" by using energy in the nighttime, instead of the daytime.  Daytime energy consumption is the bottleneck, it’s the peak, so energy generation must be sufficient to match peak demand.  Interestingly, to the extent demand for peak energy can be permanently reduced, the need for new energy generation (i.e. coal plants) is reduced as well.  Nice. 

The system consists of a large plastic attachment for commercial air conditioning units that is filled with water, frozen overnight, and used to cool refrigerant during the day.  According to Ice Energy CEO, Frank Ramirez, "It stores energy at night, when energy is cleaner to produce, cheaper to buy and easier to obtain, and it makes it available for use during the day."  The new hardware costs about $10,500 and weighs about 5,000 pounds when filled with water.  It looks very similar to a standard AC unit.  Also, there can be an additional retrofitting cost of as much as $10,000 for existing buildings and a minimum $750 cost for new construction.  Ice Energy is testing residential models (but another company called Trinity Thermal with the IceCycle has residential models already out right now).  Anyone have experience to share?

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