Solarsmith, a green building firm out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, recently helped Betsy Armstrong and Richard Barr build an eco-friendly, traditional southwest-style home in the foothills of Santa Fe. The residence's roof is filled with solar panels, which are tied into the grid, helping to heat water for the radiant floors, exercise pool and appliances. Excess energy is fed to neighboring homes.
With the glut of commercial space available today and the promise of stimulus money, some developers are looking at green building as a way to stand out. Brushing up on catch-phrases just isn't going to cut it; in the new construction space, they're competing with early adopters who have already embraced sustainable design, energy efficiency, and LEED and the like. They'll be competing with commercial projects like this.
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Jay Leno’s all about the green tech, I mean, his garage is running on wind and solar, and it powers approximately two-thirds of the place. So recently, he just put up this video demonstrating a new technology for rooftop wind applications. The Mag-Wind turbine is made by Enviro Energies and both Jay Leno and Ed Begley Jr. have their own versions on order. Naturally, Leno was excited to point out that his turbine will be bigger than Begley’s, but in addition to that, you’ll get an idea from the video how interesting the technology actually is. It’s built using magnetic levitation technology that reduces friction, noise, vibration, and energy loss. Some other interesting aspects of the Mag-Wind System include:
Dean Kamen is a well-known entrepreneur and inventor of various technologies, including the Segway, Project Slingshot, and a hybrid electrical car with a Stirling engine. He’s also trying to establish an independent, net-zero energy island off the coast of Connecticut. The three-acre private island is called North Dumpling, and if granted his wishes, it would have its own constitution, flag, and national anthem. Kamen’s attempts at secession haven’t been successful yet, but that’s no surprise given the South wasn’t able to do it either. He has found success installing LEDs and saving energy, though.
Maybe Samsø started a trend in becoming a net exporter of renewable energy because it appears that the Vatican is thinking about doing something similar. The curvaceous roof of Paul VI Audience Hall, a building that's located right by the famous St. Peter's Basilica, has been topped with 2,400 photovoltaic panels to source energy for lighting, heat, and air conditioning.
I’ve always been kind of irked by the fact that President Reagan, after having the White House’s leaky roof fixed, never replaced the solar hot water panels installed by President Carter. But it’s hard to judge him because I was barely crawling at the time — I have no idea what was going on in the collective conscious of that generation. I mean, Al Gore mentions in Sunday’s Op-Ed in the NY Times that President Nixon established Project Independence 35 years ago with a goal to, in seven years time, develop the potential to meet our country’s energy needs without having to rely on any foreign energy sources. Yet, that never happened and Reagan’s act, the way I see it, symbolically shut the door on the possibility of American energy self-reliance. At least for the time being.