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.
- 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.