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.
Update 12/13/09: Platinum Lofts @ Cherokee Studios Now Complete!
There's a lot to mention with REthink Development's project called Cherokee Lofts: history, sustainability, modern design, materials innovation, etc. This Pugh + Scarpa-designed development is on track to be named the first, privately developed, LEED Gold Certified, mixed-use project in Southern California. The project will have 12 loft units, all ranging in size from 1,000 – 2,000 sf, and 2,800 sf of commercial space.
I guess the term would be adaptive reuse, but I think I’m going to start calling this "attractive reuse." Attractive reuse is about taking boring, old, traditional homes and renovating them into modern, green abodes. The Phinney House was intended to be a case study house — the existing house was extensively remodeled, the main floor was raised to give more height in the basement, the main floor plan was opened up, and a new second floor was added. It’s Built-Green certified, too. Some of the many ecologically sustainable elements in this project include the following: hydronic radiant-floor heat; whole-house heat-recovery ventilation; FSC-certified lumber, plywood and cabinetry; reclaimed fir beams and columns; sustainably harvested Ipe wood siding and decking; straw-board flooring; non-toxic paints and finishes; concrete with fly-ash content; and rain-screen siding. Nice.
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?
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.