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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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The Spime Arrives, Bruce Sterling

The Spime Arrives

What does the future have in store for us?  In whose hands will design be?  What economic trends will prevail?  Bruce Sterling provides the answers to some of these questions.  But some of the answers are hard to understand.  He foresees monumental changes in the world of design:  a transformation of conventional users, with their currently available user-alterable gizmos, into “wranglers” with blobjects, spimes, and arphids in their pockets and briefcases. 

To visualize some of this future world, take a gander at Sterling’s web video: The Spime Arrives.  Someday, there will be a world where products are designed, visualized, and ordered online.  Consumers may be able to see products manufactured and shipped.  And products will be made of renewable, recycled materials, hailing from the closest, most efficient location.  Plus, when the product ceases to be useful, the manufacturer will take it back from us with a smile.  Trash will diminish, the loop will close.  This is a world where everything is downloadable.  Metadata is valuable and enables solutions. 

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LEED Costs, Urban Wind, Green Building Growth + Clinton Global Initiative Commitments (WIR)

Week in Review

Lawrence Country Home with Trombe Wall, Small Wind + Solar Power

Lawrence Country Green Home

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. 

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2007 Lifecycle Building Challenge Winners

Pavilion in the Park

At West Coast Green in San Francisco last week, U.S. EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine announced winners of the first inaugural Lifecycle Building Challenge competition.  Winners were recognized for their cutting-edge green building ideas that aim to reduce environmental and energy impacts of buildings.  Ideas from the design contest will jumpstart the building industry to help reuse more of the 100 million tons of building-related construction and demolition debris sent each year to landfills in the U.S.  The winners are listed below:

Congratulations to all the winners, honorable mentions, and participants.

Pirates Bay House, Partially Prefab + Green

Pirates Bay House

Many of you have probably seen this house by Stuart Tanner Architects, it was the Architectural Record House of the Month in July 2006.  But I just noticed it and want to post a few images.  It’s a small house of 1,184 sf located near Eaglehawk Neck on Tasmania’s Tasman Peninsula.  As you can see, it juts out into the air, blending the boundary between the wildlife and sea.  I’m sure the owners have witnessed the grandeur of nature at its best, being enveloped by the eucalypt forest and the sea.  Due to the location, the architect had the home partially prefabricated — framing was complete in two days.  The home also has many of the green features most homes should have, such as energy-saving lights, heating, and appliances.  It’s well-insulated throughout and designed to maximize cross ventilation.  And there’s an on-site waste management system, greywater recycling, and fresh water catchment and storage, too. 

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