Earlier this week, GM announced that they were adding the world’s largest, rooftop, solar photovoltaic power installation to its car assembly plant located in Zaragoza, Spain (a factory that manufactures Opel vehicles for sale in Europe). When the project is completed in the fall of 2008, the solar installation will have 85,000 solar panels covering about 2,000,000 sf of roof space. Bloomberg further reports that the $78.5 million installation will avoid about 7k tons of emissions per year.
It’s clear our country is reaching what future generations will see as a watershed moment as it relates to our current energy situation and how we handle it. In the U.S. alone, buildings account for roughly 70% of electricity use and 39% of energy use, so any discussion of our energy future naturally implicates the built environment. The current state of discussions on our energy future has brought together some incredible minds and one of those is the great T. Boone Pickens, an expert in recognizing scarce resources and future energy trends. Just today, he announced his efforts relating to the PickensPlan — a plan he explains himself in the above video.
Now, I think Mr. Pickens is definitely probing one of the better ways to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil, but I also think he’s skipping over an important aspect of this discussion on our country’s energy mix.
Just a little over a year ago, on May 4, 2007, Greensburg, Kansas was smashed by a tornado that pretty much decimated everything. Since that time, the city has made news all over the world for its ambitions to rebuild everything in an environmentally-friendly way. City buildings larger than about 4000 sf will be LEED Platinum, etc. So this building, 547 Arts Center, is an example of the green reconstruction process going on in Greensburg. 547 Arts Center is the first building certified as LEED Platinum in Kansas and has some incredible green elements — not to mention three small wind turbines twirling away above the roof line.