Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s that time again: October 6, 2007 – The National Solar Tour. The ASES National Solar Tour is the largest tour of sustainable energy technology for buildings in the U.S. Now in its 12th year, some 100,000 people across the nation will see how neighbors are using clean sources of energy to save on energy bills and protect the environment. Through a series of open-houses and informative tours, participants learn about renewable energy options, energy efficient design, real-world costs, current rebates available, and other valuable insights.
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?
- Hard Facts on Soft Costs – What is LEED Going to Cost Me?
- A Mighty Wind – Rooftop wind turbines are an increasingly popular way to generate electricity in cities. Also, Home Power Magazine released their Small Wind Turbine Buyer’s Guide (pdf).
- The ‘Green Building’ trend is growing in residential construction.
- President Clinton announces record number of Clinton Global Initiative commitments in first 24 hours of conference.
This home isn’t necessarily modern, but it has all the modern conveniences one could ask for: solar panels, small wind, radiant floor heating, air filtration system, and a trombe wall, etc. Kent and Kathy Lawrence’s custom country home, which was completed in 2005, ended up costing roughly $300 psf. The wind turbine alone came in at a cool $37,100 (producing 13,000 kwh/year), and that’s without tax subsidies. And unlike many custom homes that tend to explore new boundaries of profusion, this home is only 2,200 sf. Not bad. But the Lawrence’s weren’t just concerned with smart design and energy efficiency. Currently, they’re removing invasive plant species and planting native flowers, just trying to be gentle stewards of the land they inhabit. I think this is a rather picturesque setting for a home … much the American Dream.
Here’s a little shout out for a brand spanking new website called ChooseRenewables.com. I like the website because it empowers individuals with facts necessary to live in a more sustainable way. Included below are images of my experiment with CR, but this is all specific to MY HOME ADDRESS. Every location is different, so feel free to plug in your address and see what it provides.
In the heart of Seattle, the design professionals at Mithun see a farm rising vertically into the sky. Although it may never be built, the Center for Urban Agriculture (CUA) won “Best of Show” in the Cascadia Region Green Building Council’s Living Building Challenge. Vertically constructed on a .72 acre site, the off-grid building is designed to be completely energy and water sufficient and will include 318 affordable apartments (studio – 2 bedroom). And on top of that, there will be greenhouses, rooftop gardens, a chicken farm, and fields for growing vegetables and grains.