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Green Building = Buzz, but Localization = Key

Cameron_armstrong_metal_home_2 Green building articles abound, but it’s important to note the subtle differences in perspective, which may change depending on the writer’s geography.  An article may give green building advice that doesn’t make sense in your geography.  Take this Houston article for instance.  It’s a good read.  In Houston, the climate requires an innovative balance of green building techniques.  Houston is hot and humid.  I won’t say it’s the armpit of America, but it’s hard to keep dry in that place.  Here are a couple examples of localization in green building. 

  1. Passive Design – Houston architects suggest putting most of your windows in a north/south orientation because the east/west orientation draws too much heat into the home and doesn’t allow exposure to the cool breezes that blow from the southeast in the summer. 
  2. Materials – Houston architects will building with metal, as opposed to brick or stucco.  Metal reflects the sun, while brick holds in heat and stucco is prone to mold.  Unfortunately, metal doesn’t work for all applications, so you have to balance and make trade-offs. 

Rule:  Consult a knowledgeable professional to pick the optimal green building strategy that effectively considers the ramifications of the local geography and materials on your site.  It’ll pay dividends later when you actually start to occupy the building and use it.  Pictures via Cameron Armstrong Architects, a Houston architectural firm with several metal homes in their portfolio. 

Bahrain WTC, 3 Building Integrated Wind Turbines (S2)

Bahrain_wtc_turbines Recently, in the Week in Review, I blogged about these twin skyscrapers becoming the world’s first commercial development to include large-scale wind turbines in its structure.  As you can see from the pictures, Bahrain WTC towers have three, 32-yard diameter propellers that supply about 11-15 % of the buildings’ energy needs, or about 1100 to 1300 megawatts per year.  The shape of the towers create an airflow tunnel through the buildings for improved energy generation output and each turbine will be suspended on a bridge connecting the buildings.  According to BWTC designer Shaun Killa, solar panels available at the time of construction lost their efficiency due to the high Bahrain temperatures, so wind technology was the better choice for renewable supply.  The turbines will be tested throughout the year and the building will open for business later in 2007. 

The dueling towers are 50 stories each, with 34 floors of office space.  When complete, the entire complex will include a shopping mall, including about 150-200 luxury brand retail sites, and a 5-star Sheraton hotel.  In addition to having SMART features that include high-tech security and IT infrastructure, the building will use an environmentally friendly water cooling system.  Via GE Eco-Business

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Philips Wants More Efficiency, DOE Selects 13, + Lennar Gets Crazy Solar (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Homebuilder Lennar to Build Largest Solar Homes Development in U.S. – According to a deal with Sacramento Municipality Utility District (SMUD), Lennar will build 1,254 energy-efficient homes with solar power systems as a standard feature in 11 communities in the Sacramento area.  SMUD will provide a maximum of $10.9 million in incentives and Lennar will receive the rebates after homes are constructed.  That’s about $8,700 per home for solar.
  2. Philips Supports a New Call-to-Action to Adopt More Energy-Efficient Lighting in North America – A congressional coalition of energy efficiency advocates announced plans for proposed legislative action for a major shift toward incorporating high-efficiency lighting technologies in home and office settings. The call-to-action was introduced by Philips Lighting North America, the Lighting Efficiency Coalition, Congressman Don Manzullo (R- Ill.) and Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) to support the adoption of more energy- efficient lighting in North America.
  3. DOE Selects 13 Solar Energy Projects for up to $168 Million in Funding – U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced the selection of 13 industry-led solar technology development projects for negotiation for up to $168 million (FY’07-’09) in funding, subject to appropriation from Congress under President Bush’s Solar America Initiative.  These projects will help significantly reduce the cost of producing and distributing solar energy.


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